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Volunteers for rival candidate say Ald. James Gardiner 'accosted' them and got in their face on sidewalk

Ald. Jim Gardiner seen on video yelling at rival's campaign volunteers
Ald. Jim Gardiner seen on video yelling at rival's campaign volunteers 02:39

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Volunteers for a 45th Ward aldermanic candidate says a heated confrontation with current Ald. Jim Gardiner prompted two of the candidate's volunteers to file police reports against the alderman.

The volunteers for aldermanic candidate Marija Tomic spoke exclusively to CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov.

As shown on Ring doorbell camera, three Tomic volunteers were just walking down a Northwest Side street on Saturday, Nov. 26 – collecting a petition signature from a woman on the sidewalk.

It was all routine, until a blue truck pulled up out of nowhere.

"The gentleman came out of the car and crossing the street, yelling, 'What are you doing signing their petitions?' Like, you know, 'They're lying about me?'" said Tomic volunteer Andrij Skyba.

Skyba said that gentleman who said those things was Ald. Gardiner. The confrontation was caught on the Ring doorbell camera video, which was first obtained by a watchdog blog called The People's Fabric.

"Then he turned around to me and he got in very nose-to-nose, and it was like one of these clenched fists," Skyba said. "I could see almost like steam coming out of his ears."

Skyba said Gardiner kept accusing them of spreading lies.

A snipped is even heard on the Ring video, in which a man the volunteers say is Gardiner says: "Run clean campaign. know what you're talking about."

Skyba said Gardiner kept harassing them – even though the voter on the sidewalk was with a young child.

"It was just his way of coming to us and accosting us," said Tomic volunteer Ola Siemasszko-Casiano, who was also present at the time.

Siemasszko-Casiano went on to call Gardiner's actions "very disturbing."

"It's appalling. It really is," she said, "because, you know, this is a democratic society."

Both Skyba and Siemasszko-Casiano filed police reports against Gardiner. Tomic, the candidate, is also concerned.

"That's not something an elected official should do – especially during the campaign; especially since he's under so much scrutiny already," she said, "and to continue to behave that way at this time – that's what shocks me the most."

That scrutiny includes reprimands from the city's Board of Ethics, as well as ongoing lawsuits. We have reported on much of it.

A Gardiner staffer asked for a list of questions for the alderman for this story. His office sent a statement, answering none of our questions, but calling the Ring video "highly edited" and "another desperate attempt" by an opponent to gain leverage.

"This kind of behavior is very unbecoming of an elected official," Skyba said.

Skyba said police told him since there was no physical contact, there was no crime. But the report naming Ald. Gardiner for a simple assault remains on file.

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