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Dave Mance's accusations about Jeff Smith become an issue

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Watertown mayoral candidate Jeffrey M. Smith is again calling accusations from his opponent’s surrogates spurious and untrue.

In a letter that was published Friday in the Watertown Daily Times, David W. Mance, a supporter of Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham in the Nov. 8 election, accused Mr. Smith of not supporting Samaritan Medical Center and of an unpleasant run-in in 2003.

“I think either Mr. Mance can’t read, doesn’t follow City Council or is just lying to people,” Mr. Smith said Friday. “My record is public. You can look at every vote. Every time Samaritan has come forth, I have voted to support it. I’ve asked questions about it, but every single time I have voted to support it.”

Mr. Mance wrote in Friday’s Times that Mr. Smith came into his office in 2003, when Mr. Mance was the chairman of the hospital board, “outraged and belligerent” and demanded answers about the hospital. Mr. Smith denies the episode took place.

Mr. Smith noted that he was studying at LeMoyne College in 2003.

“So for me to go into his office was absurd, because I would have never had the opportunity,” Mr. Smith said.

The episode is just the latest in a campaign that has, in recent weeks, taken a turn for the ugly. Mr. Graham accused his opponent of wanting to close the library a decade ago, based on something that Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns said she overheard, which Mr. Smith also denied. A debate that aired Friday night highlighted the divisions between the two men as they head into the election for mayor.

When reached Friday, Mr. Mance, the former owner of several radio stations in the north country and a longtime associate of Mr. Graham’s, declined to comment further on his letter.

“He can call me a liar,” Mr. Mance said. “My reputation will stand up for itself.”

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