Madison candidate for State Assembly accuses opponent of harassment

Paulius Musteikis & Romulo Morishita

MADISON, Wis. — A Madison candidate for the State Assembly accused his opponent of harassment in a news release Sunday afternoon.

According to the release, Ald. Samba Baldeh (17th District), a candidate for the State Assembly, accused his opponent Walter Stewart of harassment by slowly driving by his house with two other men and taking photos around 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The release said Baldeh went outside and confronted Stewart, who Baldeh said he did not know or recognize, and asked Stewart why he was taking photos of his home.

Baldeh said Stewart made a “nonsensical response” initially before disclosing his identity as Baldeh’s opponent in the 48th Assembly contest.

When asked why he was there, the release said Stewart said that he “just happened to be in the neighborhood, saw his house and decided to take pictures.”

The release said Stewart lives in Maple Bluff, while Baldeh lives four miles from him on the city’s far east side.

Baldeh said he reported the matter to Madison police who said they would follow up in an interview with Stewart.

“As a black man in these times, it is disturbing and unsettling to see three white men slowly drive by one’s home on a Sunday afternoon and take photos,” Baldeh said in the release. “Then when questioned, they had no reason for this strange and potentially threatening behavior. I don’t know Stewart or why he and his “posse” want to photo my home. I hope that the MPD will talk to him and discourage him from continuing this behavior. White folks should understand that as much as they may often fear black men, three white men sitting outside in a car also instills fear and concern for a black family.”

Later Sunday night, Stewart released a statement sharing his side of the story.

He said he was driving around Assembly District 48 shooting a campaign video with his videographer and campaign manager, when he pointed out Baldeh’s house. Stewart’s videographer took a photo of the house, when Stewart said Baldeh started coming outside.

Stewart said he took a picture with Baldeh at the state capitol “not long-ago” and said Baldeh promised him he would forward the picture. When Baldeh came outside, Stewart asked about the picture at the capitol, while Baldeh explained he was concerned that pictures of his house were being taken.

The release said Baldeh asked if Stewart would delete the photograph, which Stewart said he did. Stewart then said he acknowledged Baldeh’s concern.

“Disturbing Ald. Baldeh and his family was not my intention,” Stewart said in the statement. “I apologize for this unfortunate misunderstanding causing him and his family any unease.”