Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/18/2012 06:08:48 PM PDT
Updated: 10/18/2012 09:56:04 PM PDT

It’s probably too early to know if 2012 will be remembered as an especially angry election year, but the vitriol seen during past weeks’ debates between the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets may have trickled down to the contests for local offices.

In a Wednesday forum involving candidates for Montclair’s City Council, the audience booed office seeker Sean Brunske after he criticized the former city manager’s pension.

An audience member accused another candidate, Richard Beltran, of lying when he said an email that appears to show him criticizing city employees for not doing anything for him on Valentine’s Day was altered to make him look bad.

In Rancho Cucamonga, a former mayoral candidate accused Councilmen Sam Spagnolo and Chuck Buquet of cheating during a recent candidate forum in that city. Bill Hanlon leveled his accusation at Wednesday’s council meeting, and the incumbent councilman said they did nothing wrong, having merely studied information to which all candidates could have had access.

Chino mayoral candidates Leo McGroarty and Dennis Yates had a testy debate on Wednesday.

In one exchange, the incumbent Yates criticized McGroarty for his relative inexperience. McGroarty replied that having tax revenues drop during one’s term is “the type of experience I do want to lack.”

Political consultant Paul Fickas said he is not working for any candidates running for office in those cities but he has paid attention to the races.

The confrontational exchange between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney during Tuesday’s debate may have set the stage for similarly heated encounters in other races, he said.

“I’ve never seen a more aggressive (encounter) in terms of debate, between presidential candidates, and everyone says, `There’s no rules for them. There’s no rules for us,”‘ Fickas said.

The examples set by presidential campaigns are only one factor that may be influencing local politics.

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