Independence City Council Member Tom Van Camp confirmed he was involved in a scuffle with another man outside a polling location Tuesday morning.
The incident happened shortly after 8 a.m. outside Christ United Methodist Church, on 39th Street near Phelps Road. Van Camp said he did not recognize the person he fought with briefly, said neither person was injured and said he “would rather let the issue go.”
Independence Police confirmed they were called to the location regarding a fight between two men, but both had left the scene before officers arrived and neither person had contacted police to make a report.
Van Camp, who represents the Fourth District – generally southwest Independence – is facing a potential voter recall, and some citizens were at polling locations Tuesday trying to gather signatures to get a recall measure on the ballot.
“I was at the polls speaking to voters, a vehicle stopped in the parking lot and a man got out and started yelling and cursing at me,” Van Camp said. “I asked him to stop and I walked away, he followed, and an altercation took place.”
Van Camp said it was over “in a matter of seconds.”
“No one was hurt, and I left the premises to avoid any further conflict.”
Lee Williams, who is the treasurer of the political action committee behind the citizen effort, was at that particular polling location but said she didn't witness the entire fight. She said Van Camp had been there about an hour, shaking hands with voters while a supporter passed out literature against the recall effort.
“Somebody wearing a Van Camp hat crossed the parking lot calling a Van Camp a ‘sonofa-----’ and the next thing I saw they were on the grass punching each other,” Williams said. “I thought it was a big joke at first, because of his hat.”
An elections supervisor at the site, who talked with The Examiner on the condition of anonymity because of his position, said he heard that initial yelling from inside the polling location and went outside. The man who confronted Van Camp appeared to be a supporter, he said, and they were about 100 feet from the door.
“He told Van Camp 'Don't come near me,' Van Camp did and took a swing. That's how it started,” the supervisor said. “It spilled over onto the grassy area.”
Two people, one of them apparently the Van Camp supporter who had been there with him, separated the men, and they soon drove away.