Questions about ethnicity, war injuries upset Osceola supervisor of elections opponent



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. -  The supervisor of elections for Osceola County is facing controversy in her bid to get re-elected.

Incumbent Mary Jane Arrington’s opponent, Peter Olivo, believes Arrington's campaign called voters to ask them shocking questions, like if they'd vote for a disabled veteran.

Olivo was born in the Dominican Republic and became a U.S. citizen in 1969. He also lost both his legs in combat while serving in Vietnam.

Arrington has since said a consultant she hired was responsible for the calls, which asked questions like, “How likely are you to vote for a disabled veteran?” and “How likely are you to vote for someone born in the Dominican Republic?”

Arrington said a consultant she hired was responsible for the calls, but Olivo said he’s already contacted an attorney and plans to file a formal complaint against his opponent.

Voters weighed in on the controversy. Osceola County resident John Carlo told WFTV he answered the phone at his mother's house in St. Cloud Wednesday night and was surprised by what he heard.

 “The questions went from pertinent to uncomfortable,” Carlo said.

Olivo said the questions crossed the line.

“It almost made me cry,” Olivo said. “Here I am, I lost half my body for this country. I love this country, and they want to use it against me?”

 “When you're in a campaign, you need to know the positives and negatives of your opponent,” Arrington said via phone.

She went on to explain that being a disabled veteran could help Ovilo gain votes.

When asked about the question regarding Olivo's Dominican background, Arrington said, “Ethnicity is not important to me, but it could be to some people."

Olivo believes the question should have never come up.

“What does that have to do with me running the supervisor of elections office?” he said. “When I hold a pen to sign my name, I hold it the same way she does.”

On Thursday, WFTV spoke to the consultant who conducted the survey. He said the campaign did not mean to offend anyone and that the questions were simply asked to help with the campaign's strategy.

WFTV’s Renee Stoll was at a candidate forum Thursday night where the issue was brought up.

“The race that we've been having was a very clean race until last night,” said Ovilo.

At the forum WFTV asked Arrington about the questions, which some constituents say crossed the line.

“No I'm here for this and to talk to candidates and not to talk to you all,” said Arrington.