In what appears to be a somewhat bizarre escalation of a political sign war in Mission Viejo, City Council candidate Rick Sandzimier is alleging that Joe Holtzman, a local activist and political opponent of Sandzimier’s, hit him with his vehicle late Friday night while Sandzimier was distributing campaign signs.

Sandzimier said he called 911 after the incident. An Orange County Sheriff’s Department official confirmed that a disturbance involving Sandzimier took place at 11 p.m. Friday, but would not release more details.

Update: Sheriff’s department spokesperson Jim Amormino said Monday morning that deputies at the scene did take an assault report, but there were no witnesses and no arrests were made. He also said the case is still under investigation, and after Holtzman and Sandzimier are interviewed again it will be referred to the Orange County District Attorney’s office for review.

Holtzman was evasive when interviewed Sunday by a reporter about the alleged incident. He would not confirm or deny specific details, except to say that Sandzimier’s accusations were “nonsense.”

Things have been getting nasty in Mission Viejo — especially when it comes to signs — as candidates head down the final stretch to the Nov. 2 election

Saturday, city resident and Orange Juice blogger Larry Gilbert accused council incumbent Dave Leckness of nailing his campaign signs to trees and Sandzimier of stacking his campaign signs on top of each other.

The following is Sandzimier’s version of the events Friday night:

Sandzimier said he noticed he was being followed when he was driving north on Marguerite Parkway to put signs at the corner of Marguerite and Los Alisos Boulevard. While Sanzimier was posting his sign, the tailing vehicle stopped behind his car and the driver, whom Sandzimier recognized as Holtzman, began blaring the horn, Sandzimier said.

Sandzimier called 911 and began describing the incident to the dispatcher. Meanwhile, he said, Holtzman was yelling from his car: “Sandzimier you’re trespassing. You need to remove your sign.”

Sandzimier said he stepped toward the car to read the front license plate, and it suddenly lurched forward, striking him at his right hip and arm. Sandzimier said he was able to blunt some of the impact by pushing off the car, but still suffered a bruise on his hip, which, he said, an Orange County Crime Lab official photographed on Saturday.

Sandzimier said he attempted to initiate a citizen’s arrest when the police arrived because he didn’t feel safe hoisting his campaign signs while Holtzman was still free.

Sandzimier said the police released him before Holtzman and doesn’t know whether Holtzman was arrested at the scene.

Sandzimier said this isn’t the first time Holtzman has been confrontational with him. In another instance, Sandzimier said Holtzman approached him while he was out with his children and claimed he had photos of Sandzimier up in a tree where a Sandzimier campaign sign was allegedly slung.

More to come …


Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.