An Orange resident running for chair of the Orange County Republican Party was arrested at a polling facility Feb. 18 after he reportedly assaulted a poll worker with whom he was arguing, Vidor Police report.
According to VPD Chief Dave Shows, 70-year-old Jerry Wilson admitted to “whupping on someone” at the community center in Vidor off Claiborne Street near Interstate 10 in Vidor. Officers responded at about 1:30 p.m. regarding a fight at the community center. Witnesses reported a man outside the polling facility had been assaulted by a known subject. Upon arrival at the scene, police questioned Wilson, who met the description of the assailant given by witnesses. Shows said the altercation took place as the result of an argument regarding signage at the early voting station, and he indicated the two men had a troubled history.
“They go way back,” Shows explained.
Melissa Riley and her husband, Roger, of Vidor were at the community center to vote and witnessed the entire event. The blog site “What’s Up Vidor ” at www.whatsupvidor. com  first interviewed Riley, who agreed to speak with The Examiner.
“We pulled up to the community center, and I was looking at the signs in front,” Riley related. “We saw an elderly man sitting there who sits there almost every year. Then, I see this truck driving toward us. The man stops in front of us. He swings open his door and jumps out in front my vehicle. (Wilson) goes up to the elderly man in the chair and starts pointing his finger in the man’s face. Then, he starts just starts pounding him, and the man’s chair went over.”
Riley said her husband intervened to stop the assault while she ran into the Orange County Sheriff’s Office substation next door to the community center to report the altercation. Vidor police were called to the scene and quickly responded.
Riley described the assault as “very one-sided,” and said the victim, identified as 83-year-old Kenneth Young of Vidor, shouted at Wilson, who was headed back to his truck, “Don’t you dare go get that gun out of your truck.”
Shows said he was “surprised” by the incident and dismayed that a candidate running for an elected position would do something that could cause voters to turn away from the polling facility.
“This is unfortunate,” Shows asserted. “We can’t have people being scared to go vote. We just can’t have that. If there is one place you should not feel threatened to go, it should be a polling place. You would think people who are passionate enough about what they are doing to file for political office of any kind would have that same attitude.”
Riley said she and her husband were not deterred from voting, but the incident was disturbing to her. She said Wilson, who she believes saw her taking photos using her phone, approached her after the incident to try to explain why he had attacked the other man, but she did not want to engage.
“We were very nervous,” Riley said. “I was especially nervous when he (Wilson) turned and focused on me. He was trying to tell me that the other man was saying all these bad things about him, like he was not paying his child support, that weren’t true. I did not say a word to him. He should not have attacked that man. There are other ways to handle these things than violence.”
Wilson took to Facebook to give his version of events.
“I drove up to the early voting location at Vidor to find my five signs taken down and replaced by two hand written signs,” Wilson wrote. “I pulled them up and reclaimed the position that I had with two of my signs. I proceeded around the corner to the next available sign location. Kenneth Young was setting there in a chair. I stopped got out of my truck walked over and asked him if he had pulled up and destroyed my signs. His response was, ‘Yes, what are you going to do about it.’ Being no stranger to Kenneth Young for the past 22 years I proceeded to whip the living snot out of him, that I did. I have no remorse.”
Young suffered a bloodied nose, black eye and a lacerated cheek as a result of the assault. Wilson was arrested on a Class A misdemeanor assault charge and taken to the Orange County Jail. Judge David Peck set bond at $1,000, and Wilson was released on bond at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 18.