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School Board Candidate Drops Shadow Campaign Citing Registrar of Voters Censorship

Leland Traiman dropped his idea for a school board shadow campaign citing Registrar of Voters censorship. (File photo)

Leland Traiman dropped his idea for a school board shadow campaign citing Registrar of Voters censorship. (File photo)

An Alameda resident has dropped a shadow campaign intended to dog an Alameda Unified School District Trustee up for election this fall, citing censorship on the part of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Leland Traiman, who unsuccessfully ran for the Alameda Health Care Disrict board in 2012, had filed papers to run for Board of Trustee for the Alameda Unified School District.

His intent was to run a shadow campaign to dog incumbent Mike McMahon, who is up for election this fall and who Traiman wants to see exit the board.

McMahon is running for his fourth term.

However, earlier this week, when Traiman went to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office to file his candidate statement, he was told that the “statement cannot make reference to other candidates for that office,” and his statement was rejected.

Traiman told Action Alameda News, “They will not print my ballot statement, therefore there is no reason for me to be on the ballot. I suspect the state law restricting what a candidate says in their ballot statement is a violation of the [United States] First Amendment’s freedom of speech. Unfortunately, as you know, it would take a lot of money to take it to court to have such a law overturned.”

However, the Registrar of Voters Candidate Guide does not cite any statute in its prohibition against naming opponents, indicating only that, “the candidate statement cannot refer to opponents in any manner. If a candidate does make reference to anything other than his or her own qualifications, he or she could be subject to legal action. The candidate’s statement may not include the party affiliation of the candidate, nor membership or activity in partisan political organizations.”

Here is the candidate statement that Traiman submitted to the Registrar of Voters, but which they rejected:

“The role of a board member is not to listen to the people.” So said School Board Member Mike McMahon on February 12, 2013 at a school board meeting. Mike understands that the public is too stupid to be listened to on important matters and I do too. Vote for me because I want to be just like Mike. Mike brilliantly gets around conflict of interest laws as several members of his family have gotten jobs with the school district. My family needs jobs too, so vote for me because I want to be just like Mike. When the schools got additional money from Measure A, Mike, wisely, spent other money (which was now freed up) on new administrative offices rather than students and teachers. After all, administrators are here to stay, the students are just passing through and teachers don’t matter. Vote for me, I’m just like Mike. Finally, Mike brilliantly “swapped” school land to developers without getting the land appraised making them millions. Whatever fat, rich, Swiss bank accounts Mike may have gotten out of that I want one too! Vote for Mike McMahon and me and you’ll get the government you deserve. I’m just like Mike.

Two seats on the school district board are up for election this year, with incumbent Margie Sherratt having indicated that she will not run again.

As of August 1st, Solana Henneberry, wife of Alameda Planning Board member Mike Henneberry, had filed to run for the school board, as had Mike McMahon, according to the Registrar of Voters.

Registrar documents available online show Traiman as having withdrawn from the race.

7 comments to School Board Candidate Drops Shadow Campaign Citing Registrar of Voters Censorship

  • Is this guy (Leland Traiman) for real? Of course the Registrar of Voters rejected his statement!

  • Aniruddha Ramachandran

    Aren’t the rules the same for everyone who wishes to run for an office?

  • It’s not about different rules for different people.

    It’s about whether Alameda County can restrict candidates at all from naming other candidates.

    It may be a violation of *all* candidates’ rights for the county government to make this restriction.

  • Aniruddha Ramachandran

    Well, after a quick google search I found that both San Francisco, Alameda County and Skagit County, Washington all have the same restrictions. The san Francisco booklet provides the legal basis for the restriction, which is “John F. Dean v Superior Court of
    Orange County, Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Division 3, California, No.

    So really this comes down to whether a candidate is serious about running for an office and can bring innovative ideas and proposals to the office or he/she wishes to make a mockery of the process to denigrate an incumbent school board member.

    If Leland is/was serious about running for this office, he’d have told us why he’d be a better member than the others running for office.

  • I don’t think he intended to run to win, but rather, intended to run to highlight what he views as issues with McMahon’s incumbency.

    Thanks for the reference to Dean. That, however, is only at the California court of appeal. It may be a triable issue at the California Supreme Court or US Supreme Court whether those restrictions are constitutional or not.

    It also raises the question of why local governments would see fit to put in such a restriction anyway, rather than let candidates take the risk of a lawsuit themselves.


    Note also that these restrictions would tend to favor incumbents.

    Alameda’s own Steven Tavares wrote about the issue of eternal incumbency in Alameda County back in March.

  • cg

    I love Leland’s statement! More comic relief on the ballot is good. How is his statement more ridiculous than Kenny the Clown running for council?