SAFETY HARBOR — Longtime politicos in this small city are used to election season shenanigans.
Usually, such mischief consists of stealing signs or spreading false information about candidates.
But what Nancy Besore, who on Tuesday won Seat 3 on the City Commission, said happened to her may go way beyond the typical campaign tricks and into the criminal arena.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating two packages left for Besore. The first was a Ziploc bag with a threatening note and apparent drug paraphernalia left in her driveway four days before the election; the second was an envelope containing prescription medication left in her post office box on election day.
Besore said her boyfriend, John Such, came home from work March 6 and found the Ziploc bag sitting in her driveway.
Inside was a syringe with a capped needle, a metal teaspoon wrapped in a paper towel and a typed note with almost every word misspelled.
Such put the plastic bag on the kitchen table, and when Besore got home, she took a look but did not open it.
"The note said, 'Dis gif is for you and more $ later,' '' said Besore, who added that she was reciting the note from memory because it is now in the hands of investigators. " 'Jus rememb dis hood be mine. Jus rememb dat and we be good. Later b----.' ''
"It was in weird gang talk,'' she said. "It was mobster talk.''
She said she also saw some kind of brownish material inside the bag.
Not wanting to call sheriff's deputies to her home because that would worry her elderly mother, who was visiting from out of state, Besore took the package to City Hall with the intention of showing it to Cathy Benson, the city clerk, and asking for her advice on what to do.
Because it was so late in the day, Benson had gone home, but associate planner Ron Rinzivillo told Besore to call law enforcement. A deputy met her behind the fire station, but Besore said she decided not to file a report because she didn't want the "drama'' so close to the election.
"The deputy said it was most likely a prank,'' she said.
She put the plastic bag aside and continued her campaign.
But on election day, the other strange item turned up, this time in her post office box.
It was a small white envelope containing something, but she did not know what. She did not open it.
There was no return address, and the label appeared to have been typed on a separate piece of paper and taped to the envelope. Also, Besore's first name was misspelled as "Nance" instead of "Nancy."
She again went to City Hall, this time with the Ziploc bag and the envelope, and showed them to Benson and City Manager Matt Spoor.
"She was concerned the note was threatening,'' said Benson, who said the two women discussed whether it was a joke or an attempt to intimidate her.
The items were taken to Safety Harbor personnel director Bill Cropsey's office and placed on his credenza.
"I kind of wish it hadn't been brought to City Hall,'' he said. "I didn't want to touch it.''
He called the Sheriff's Office, and a deputy took them away.
"He didn't want to touch it either,'' Cropsey said.
He said he later got a call from the Sheriff's Office and was informed that the items had been taken to a lab in Tampa where hazardous materials experts examined them.
"They said the envelope contained eight tablets of the generic form of Xanax,'' Cropsey said.
Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a prescription antianxiety medication. Cropsey said officials did not mention what was in the Ziploc bag.
"A report was filed on Tuesday,'' said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecelia Barreda. "It's an open and ongoing investigation.''
Barreda declined to comment further.
Cropsey has no idea who sent the items, but he found a clue that it could have been the same person.
"It looked like the printing on the envelope matched the printing on the note,'' he said. "It was the same font.''
When asked who she thought had sent the items, Besore said, "I don't know."
Eileen Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4153.