City leader charged with assaulting businessman at local debate

By Marlee Ginter

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LINCOLN, Calif. (KOVR) — A Lincoln city leader is accused of hurling insults and even punching one of his constituents during a local debate — and it was all caught on camera.

Now city leaders are asking Councilman William Lauritsen to step down, but he refuses, saying they aren’t listening to his side of the story.

As the candidates for the United States Congress squared off at William Jessup University in Rocklin, those who really clashed were in the audience.

Longtime local businessman Matthew Oliver, owner of House of Oliver in Roseville, launched a Facebook Live at the event, but what happened next he didn’t see coming.

Oliver said that while asking questions of various local politicians, Lauritsen began to harass him until things escalated and even turned violent.

“It wasn’t until he took my phone that I realized this guy was completely and clearly irrelevant and I had to get my phone back,” Oliver said. “I needed to get out of here.”

Oliver said what he was trying to do was “ask her questions and get some real answers.”

Lauritsen paints a different picture.

“It was recording it and it hit me in the nose with it,” he said of Oliver’s phone.

Lauritsen said Oliver was aggressive and all he regrets is not walking away sooner.

“He really got on top of me, he started pushing me and everything like that. And he’s got his phone on me, so you don’t really see what he’s doing, you only see me,” said Lauritsen.

Lincoln Mayor Holly Andreatta is now pushing for Lauritsen to step down.

“Matthew Oliver is not an elected official. Bill Lauritsen is. He chose to run for council,” she said. “We hold them to greater responsibility. There’s a responsibility when you’re in office and all he had to do was walk away.

We asked Lauritsen if he pushes the envelope. Lauritsen said no and added that what happened was “not appropriate, but that’s what happens when two guys get together and start arguing.”

“Showing the world that it needs to be done,” Oliver said. “I believe he revealed his true character and his true nature.”

As for his seat, Lauritsen says he refuses to resign. The mayor said they could not return him and it would be up to voters to recall. But city leaders are considering censoring him, removing him from all committees, and banning him from any city-paid event.

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