Candidate for Knox County mayor arrested in California

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A Knoxville woman running for Knox County mayor has been booked in a California jail on a $400,000 bond.

Rhonda Gallman is being held in the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California, charged with preventing or dissuading a victim or witness from testifying in court, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"The Knox County Democratic Party with the help of the Tennessee Democratic Primary is investigating how her arrest will affect the primary ballot," the Knox County Democratic Party said in a statement. 

The arrest of the East Knoxville native could present challenges for the Knox County Democratic Party in the upcoming elections.

"A Democrat running for Knox County mayor doesn't exactly have an easy glide path into election as it is," political analyst George Korda said. "But what it does is on top of the mayor of Nashville having to resign after pleading guilty to a felony is it sort of taints the brand generally."

Gallman was in California visiting her son, Jamahl Thomas, who is facing charges for attempted murder and criminal conspiracy. Shortly before Gallman's arrest on March 7, she posted multiple videos to her Facebook page. 

"Today is a great day," Gallman said. "I'm actually happy. I'm happy. I'm feeling more peace."

She even turned the camera around to interview two Los Angeles officers. 

"Are you innocent until proven guilty or are you guilty?" she asked one officer.

"You are innocent until proven guilty," the officer replied.

"So then why are some of the inmates complaining that they're treated unfairly, like they're guilty before the make it to trial?" Gallman said. 

Despite Gallman's arrest, the Knox County election committee said she will still remain on the ballot for the Democratic primary.

"We will have to see what happens," Cliff Rodgers, chair of the Knox County election committee, said by phone. "Her arrest doesn't affect or change anything, and it will be up to the voters to decide."

If Gallman, who is also a former state representative candidate, chooses to stay in the race for mayor, Korda said that she will have to focus on her messaging to win over voters. 

"A felony charge doesn't look good but she's also not guilty of anything yet," Korda said. "If she intends to continue her campaign, she needs to say, 'The person who said I did it is a rat,' which in this case are the authorities of Los Angeles."

Gallman faces Linda Haney in the Democratic primary

"I've only met Ms. Gallman once, but I wish her the best," Haney said by phone. "I'm just campaigning as much as I can and I just want people to know that I'm focused right now on campaigning."

If Gallman were to win the Democratic primary, she will go up against the Republican primary winner, with her arrest likely to be used against her in a general election. 

"I don't think it's going to have any profound effect on the election," Korda said. "What I do think is that, going forward, it's something that the republican party can point back to and say look at the kind of candidates the opposition party runs."

Trending Stories

Latest Local News

Video Center