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City councillor clashes with candidate vying for council seat

Click to play video: 'Edmonton councillor clashes with candidate vying for council seat' Edmonton councillor clashes with candidate vying for council seat
WATCH ABOVE: Police are investigating an altercation between ward 3 councillor David Loken and a candidate running to take hi seat on council. Sarah Kraus reports – Aug 15, 2017

Police in Edmonton are investigating an altercation between Ward 3 City Councillor Dave Loken and a candidate looking to replace him on council.

On Saturday afternoon, Sarmad Rasheed and his campaign organizer were standing outside their election booth, talking to Ward 3 residents at a youth day event in Castle Downs Park.

Shortly after 1 p.m. current city councillor Dave Loken arrived at the event to give a proclamation on youth day and approached Rasheed’s booth.

What happened next differs depending on who you ask.

Rasheed said he initially tried to shake Loken’s hand, but Loken came up to him in a threatening manner, told him he shouldn’t be at the event and that he needed to pack up and leave.

“I was at an event, he came to my booth, he attacked me at my booth, in front of my people, in my ward. The organizer had to escort him out of my area,” Rasheed explained.

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He said Loken pointed his finger at him and got right up close to his face and poked him in the glasses. Rasheed filed a police report alleging the councillor assaulted him and made him feel unsafe. He said this is not the first time he has had a problem with Loken.

“He is absolutely not happy because I am campaigning against him. He took it personally. It’s unfortunate. I extended my hand to him, he refused. He doesn’t want to shake my hand, he doesn’t want to talk to me. It’s unfortunate to see this kind of behaviour from a city councillor. I was shocked.”

In a statement, Loken said he approached Rasheed because he felt having a campaign booth on public property violated election rules.

“He became very agitated and told me that he did not have to take orders from me. I agreed with him and said that was true but that he had to follow the rules. I was pointing my finger at him to make this point and he told me to stop pointing and I did, but then Rasheed made a swiping motion at my finger but did not make contact. I also told him to stop making defaming statements about me in the community,” the statement reads.

Loken went on: “I did not make any physical contact with him, nor did I threaten him, at any time – either verbally or physically. I was at a safe distance away from him at all times so as to not invade his personal space.”

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The councillor said he provided a statement to police and is cooperating with their investigation.

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Sarmad Rasheed's police statement: Page 1. Sarah Kraus / Global News
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Sarmad Rasheed's police statement: Page 2. Sarah Kraus / Global News
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Sarmad Rasheed's police statement: Page 3. Sarah Kraus / Global News

One Ward 3 resident who witnessed the altercation, but did not want to be named, said Loken was unfriendly and aggressive, but did not touch Rasheed.

Rasheed’s campaign organizer, Ben West, also said there was no physical assault.

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“No, they did not touch each other at any point,” West said. “I don’t want to make Dave Loken look bad. I don’t like attack campaigns, it’s something I’m not very fond of.”

West said he couldn’t hear the men speaking, but watched what happened.

“Sarmad went to shake his hand, and Mr. Loken did not return the favour. He was very, not angry necessarily, but aggravated I guess. He was talking really loudly and not letting Sarmad get a word in. He was just saying we shouldn’t be campaigning here, even though we had called city elections previously to make sure that was ok.”

West said the civic elections office told Rasheed he was allowed to have campaign posters in the park because it was part of a private event and organizers had invited the candidate to take part. He said Loken was being unfriendly towards Rasheed.

“I don’t think it’s escalated to the point where it’s threatening, but it was definitely unprofessional,” he said.

“I think it’s unfortunate that Dave Loken chose to act the way he did.”

After the incident, an organizer from youth day approached Loken and asked him to go away from Rasheed’s booth, which Loken did.

Rasheed said he won’t let the incident stop him from continuing to campaign in Ward 3.

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With files from Scott Johnston

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