Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag and former city council candidate Jan Chesmore are entangled in a “private legal matter” after she accused him of influencing the spring election.

Carri Salus, Freitag’s executive assistant, confirmed in an email to The Gazette that Freitag and his personal attorney sent Chesmore a cease-and-desist letter last week. She said city officials will not comment further.

The cease-and-desist letter comes after Chesmore publicly questioned why Freitag had visited Janesville polling places during the April 2 election.

Chesmore, who ran unsuccessfully for city council April 2, made her remarks during the public comment portion of the April 22 council meeting. She said she had experience as a poll worker, and nobody is allowed to “shake hands and kiss babies” at a polling place.

She said she called officials from nearby municipalities who said their top officials typically don’t visit voting locations. Chesmore said she believed Freitag’s actions qualified as a state electioneering misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in jail for each violation.

Chesmore did not say whether Freitag’s actions directly affected her fifth-place finish in the council race. She received nearly 4,400 votes, about 1,300 votes shy of being elected.

The council still had a vacancy after the election when Jens Jorgensen resigned. Chesmore did not submit an application to be considered for appointment to the seat.

Earlier this month, the council selected Paul Benson from a field of four finalists to fill the last year of Jorgensen’s term.

Chesmore did not speak at Monday’s council meeting, the first regular meeting since she made her original remarks. She did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

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