Contested Anna council races get messy

By Joshua Baethge
Anna-Melissa Tribune

Anna City Council Place 3 

Hugh Heath

Stan Carver

Anna City Council Place 4

Bran Heath 

Randy Atchley

Early voting continues through Dec. 4

Election day is Dec. 8

Anna candidates greet supporters on Election Day.

Tempers are flaring in the runoff election for two hotly contested Anna City Council seats. On Nov. 30, Place 3 candidate Stan Carver announced that he had filed a cease and desist order against Place 4 candidate Bryan Heath. He also planned to file an ethics violation complaint with the city.

Carver alleges that in the early morning hours of Nov. 10, Bryan Heath sent text messages to area residents accusing Carver and his son of breaking into his home. When he confronted him, Carver claims that Bryan Heath apologized, asked for forgiveness, and said he would drop out of the race.

“He needs to publicly apologize and say that all of this was misinformation so that my son and I can move on with our lives without this haunting us,” Carver said. “Out of respect for the office he should gracefully withdraw.”

Bryan Heath strongly denies ever apologizing or agreeing to drop out. He said he planned to file his own ethics complaint against Carver with the city.  When asked directly if he believed Carver had broken into his property or if he had sent text messages making those allegations, he declined to provide a definitive answer. He later added that he texted three people but planned to “let the incident go” since nothing was taken that couldn’t be replaced.

“That is currently being investigated so I don’t think I can say anything about it,” Bryan Heath said. “I’m fully satisfied that the truth about that will come out on its own.”

While the city council races are technically non-partisan, Bryan Heath believes he is being targeted because he has been endorsed by local progressive organizations. Bryan and Hugh Heath both finished first in their respective races but ended up in runoffs because neither received a majority of the votes.  According to Bryan Heath, the tone of the election has changed dramatically since then.

“All I can do is place my fate in the hands of the people and hope they can see through the lies and deception.”

 What makes the situation even more bizarre is the fact that Carver is not running against Bryan Heath, but his father Hugh Heath. Carver surmises that Bryan Heath has made these allegations in hopes of having him drop out of the race so that his father can run unopposed.

Over the course of the runoff campaign, Hugh Heath has kept a low profile compared to the other candidates. He has declined to participate in multiple public platforms or interviews.  However, when news of Carver’s post reached him, he felt it was time to speak out.

“I’m kind of getting baffled by all this because I don’t live for drama,” Hugh Heath said. 

The elder Heath says Carver’s son had been dating his youngest daughter (Bryan Heath’s sister).  According to Hugh Heath, a neighbor witnessed Carver’s son and another female kick in the door to the guest house on his property where his daughter lives.  The witness then claims to have seen Carver’s son repeatedly go in and out of the house.  

Carver does not dispute that his son had been dating Hugh Heath’s daughter. However, he says that the breakup was amicable and there was never any ill will between the two families.  Carver strongly denies Hugh Heath’s allegations and says security software in his home and family vehicles can prove that he and his son were nowhere near the Heath property at that time.

Hugh Heath says that he did he initially take any action because he had no desire to create additional drama. He advised his daughter and Bryan Heath not to ask for any items back since they would not be worth the trouble. However, in light of the public position that Carver has taken, he said that he now planned to file a police report.

“I don’t like causing problems for others, but I have no choice now since he (Carver) won’t let it die,” Hugh Heath said.

Hugh Heath says that he wanted to run for city council in part to protect the lifestyle he loves in Anna. He is not willing to sell his property to developers and hopes that his grandchildren will one day inherit the land. His job installing fiber optic networks has kept him on the road for a lot of the year, but it didn’t dissuade him from running. He just never expected the race to generate so much drama. 

One thing that Carver and Bryan Heath agree on is that they had a positive relationship with each other before the election. Both had been guests at the other’s homes. In fact, Carver says that he was on good terms with everyone in the family other than Hugh Heath, whom he had never met. Carver admits that he does not agree with some of Bryan Heath’s political opinions, but he liked him as a person and encouraged him to run for council. 

While no accusations have been leveled directly against him, Place 4 candidate Randy Atchley says he stands behind Carver 100 percent, saying that Bryan Heath’s actions have been “unethical” and “slanderous.” 

“The citizens of Anna need to know what’s happening in this campaign for City Council,” Atchley said. “A father-son duo, backed and funded by the Democrats and the far-left progressive movement are seeking to take over this town.”

Atchley also took a swipe at Hugh Heath’s low profile, saying that he would, “hate it if we all get to meet Hugh Heath for the First time the night he’s sworn in as a councilman.”

Early voting for the Anna council race continues through Dec. 4.  Election day is Dec. 8.