Council candidate embracing past

XENIA — Dr. Edgar Wallace is not running from his past while running for Xenia City Council.

The 70-year-old pastor of First United Christian Church recently discovered that a person or group of people have done some extensive research into his past — a history that includes drug and gun charges, failure to pay city income tax and jail time, most of which occurred more than 30 years ago.

Wallace, council President Mike Engle and the Xenia Daily Gazette received similar anonymous packets containing several computer printouts of court records belonging to Wallace, who previously served as an Urban County councilperson in suburban Lexington, Ky. in the 1980s.

Wallace feels it’s an attempt to get him to drop out of the November election, thus leaving four candidates for four open spots. Incumbents Dale Louderback, John Caupp and Engle are up for re-election and are joined by newcomers Sarah Mays and Wallace. The mailing also contained a copy of a campaign handout that show Wallace, Engle and Mays aligned as a trio.

“I won’t accept any pressure to get off the ballot,” Wallace said Wednesday, adding that he thinks the person or people are supporters of Caupp and Louderback.

“[The people] feel like I might win,” Wallace said. “If I win, that means that probably one of them (Caupp or Louderback) is going to lose. Sarah’s got a great name in town. I think Mike’s going to win. Only one of them can win if I win. They’ve got to do whatever they can to stop me. It seems like I’m the vulnerable guy.”

There was also a Facebook post calling for Wallace to step down. On the Xenia Today page, a post — which has since been deleted — said it would be “the wise thing to do and in the best interest of the community” if a particular candidate withdrew from the election so as not to create “unnecessary turmoil.”

Engle is not concerned that he is aligned with Wallace.

“I’m still very pleased to run along with the gentleman,” Engle said. “He has acknowledged (the issues) and spoke publicly about them. He has paid his dues and debts to society. He has turned his life around.”

Wallace blames his past issues on alcohol. While in the insurance and real estate business — and under the influence of alcohol — in 1983, Wallace said he agreed to a real estate transaction with a fellow bar patron — someone who did not have the legal authority to make such a deal. After a complaint by the actual owner of the property in question, the Kentucky Real Estate Commission found Wallace guilty of fraud and suspended his license for five years. An appellate court overturned that decision but it could not overturn the suspension.

Also in 1983 Wallace was involved in an incident with a gun with a night club owner when he discovered the owner was in an inappropriate relationship with his teenage daughter. That charge of wanton endangerment was dismissed, Wallace said, and he was only guilty of “bad judgment.”

Of myriad drug charges, only one stuck, Wallace said. That was a misdemeanor conviction involving marijuana. He had been charged with felony cocaine trafficking, but that was dropped. Wallace said he was not directly involved in the deal but by handling money that was being used to buy the marijuana, an undercover officer implicated him as well.

He was sentenced to one year in jail and served 164 days before being released early.

“I was not a drug dealer, I was a drunk,” said Wallace, who was re-elected to his Urban County council seat even though he had a misdemeanor record.

Wallace said the failure to pay Xenia income tax occurred when he was living in Kentucky and his federal taxes were under audit. According to court records, two charges were dropped and the others have been filed and paid.

Upon leaving jail, Wallace said he was a changed man. He received an MBA, a DMin. and is a licensed social worker and chemical dependency counselor.

“When I was released on May 14, 1986, I was a better man for what I experienced, even though it was so painful,” Wallace said through a written statement.

The information concerning Wallace’s record was brought to the attention of the three council-appointed city department heads — City Manager Brent Merriman, Law Director Ron Lewis and Finance Director Mark Bazelak — by councilmen John Caupp and Dale Louderback.

On behalf of the two and written by Caupp was an email — obtained through an open records request — to fellow councilmen and the department heads that said, “Councilman Louderback and I were approached by a group of citizens about Bridges of Hope.”

Wallace and other area pastors are involved in an effort to turn the former Simon Kenton Elementary School building — owned by the city — into a one-stop shop for people in need of various services such as drug counseling and shelter.

The email continued,“The group of citizens provided us detailed documentation about Bridges of Hope and its lead agent, Mr. Wallace. He is the lead agent on the 501(c)3 filing with the state. They also provided us with a list of criminal activity on Mr. Wallace … Dale and I were of the belief that they may take this information public and felt the appointed officials should be made aware of this.”

Caupp adamantly denied in the email that the effort to bring it to the attention of department heads was politically motivated. Louderback confirmed that as well Thursday morning.

“Never at any point did Councilman Louderback nor I bring up Mr. Wallace’s candidacy,” Caupp wrote in the email, which was sent specifically to council Vice President Josh Long, who questioned the motive in his own email. “That was not what the topic of the meeting was about. After seeing the documentation provided, the appointed officials, I believe, have some of their own concerns.”

Merriman said Wednesday that Simon Kenton was the context under which the appointed officials were informed, but that there is no immediate concern about Wallace’s criminal past in relation to Bridges of Hope.

“Currently we have no direct financial relationship with Bridges of Hope,” he said. “We are allowing them some limited use of the Simon Kenton building. We’re not actually providing any cash funding to them. Even if we were, there would still be procedures in place to ensure financial accountability.”

By Scott Halasz

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Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.