Political discussion turns into a physical dispute between two Gardner City Council members

GARDNER, Kan, - It was the talk of the town in Gardner, Kan., and it made headlines in all the local papers.

"When it becomes physical, when you are in front of someone's house where their family sleeps, yes that is too far," said Danedri Thompson with the Gardner News.

Thompson has been covering Gardner City Council meetings for three years and she said on Monday, a discussion between council members Dennis Pugh and Larry Fotovich escalated to an uncomfortable level.

The council members were discussing whether meetings should be videotaped and council member Pugh argued to cost of the service was too high.

Fotovich said council members would behave better if they knew they were being recorded.

"That is when Councilman Pugh said, 'I would still drag you to the back room and beat the "bad word" out of you' and then he left," said Thompson.

After the meeting, Pugh drove to Fotovich's house and the two got into a physical fight.

"As he was crossing the yard, he said, 'You and I are going to finish this right here right now.' I started to run to my front door and he grabbed me from behind and put me in a head lock, somehow I was able to get free of that and I ran across the street," said Fotovich.

Fotovich had a camera in his pocket and he began recording Pugh.

"He turned and charged at me, tackled me, and then took the camera," said Fotovich.

Fotovich said a police officer arrived and the officer took statements and the camera.

Officials turned the case over to the Johnson county Sheriff's Office.

"It will be up to the district attorney on whether they file charges or not," said Fotovich.

We asked Pugh for a comment but he refused since there is an investigation.

The Gardner City Council has a work secession scheduled for Monday and both Council members Pugh and Fotovich are expected to attend.

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