The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

October 29, 2010
Another school candidate goes partisan in nonpartisan race

A reader has pointed to yet another candidate who is making an explicit partisan appeal as the focus of an ad in a nonpartisan school board race: Teri Burns, a long-time incumbent on the Natomas Unified school board.

One side the mailer reads: DEMOCRAT in large letters that spread across the whole front. Then, "IT'S OFFICIAL: Teri Burns is the Democratic Party's Candidate."

The reverse side reads:




BOARD. Their agenda could

devastate essential programs.


knows a vote for Teri Burns

ensures our students and

teachers will be supported.

Burns, who was first elected to the board in 1986 and who has served as a former state deputy superintendent of public instruction should know that the California Constitution states that, "All judicial, school, county and city offices shall be nonpartisan" (California Constitution, Article II, Section 6a).

While political parties often send out ads touting their endorsements (and candidates post lists with all their endorsements, party and non-party, and identify their party registration discreetly), it is unusual for a candidate to make an explicitly partisan appeal the focus of an ad in a nonpartisan race.

Do voters really want their school board elections turning into partisan races -or should candidates at least attempt to abide by the spirit of nonpartisanship in the California Constitution?

The Bee's editorial board endorsed Burns for this race.  We are deeply disappointed that she has decided to rely on partisanship, rather than her record, to win a new term of office.

October 29, 2010
Woo's latest mailer makes nonpartisan race explicitly partisan

California's Constitution states that, ""All judicial, school, county and city offices shall be nonpartisan" (California Constitution, Article II, Section 6a).

Most candidates attempt to abide by this spirit of nonpartisanship even if they are registered and active in a particular party - and even if they are endorsed by a political party.

It is highly unusual for a candidate in a nonpartisan race to make a crass partisan pitch on his own behalf - turning a nonpartisan campaign into an explicitly partisan one.

Darrel Woo, running in the Pocket/Greenhaven area for the Sacramento City Unified school board has done just that. He sent out a mailer highlighting his affiliation as a "Registered Democrat" who is "Endorsed by the local Democratic Party." He lambasts one of his opponents as a "Registered Republican" who is "Endorsed by the local Republican Party."

Nonpartisan local elections were a legacy of California's progressives who didn't want party bosses dominating local offices. With his mailer, Woo has signaled that his party affiliation matters more than the nonpartisanship of the school board office, a bad sign.


Woo's latest mailer also uses this line to attack his opponent: "Has no children in our public schools." Neither does Woo. So what is this about? His opponent attended Joan Didion Elementary, Sam Brannan Middle and Kennedy High School (Class of 1992), so it's not about his knowledge of local public schools. His opponent also has been active for eight years in the Greenhaven Soccer Club, with 120 teams serving 1,400 kids. So it's not about his opponent's understanding of or working with kids. What point is Woo trying to make here?


This latest mailer reinforces earlier concerns The Bee's editorial board has expressed about Woo. See "Missing: Candidate sense of decency" (Oct. 22) and "For Sacramento schools -- Bell, Corso, Singh" (Oct. 13).

October 28, 2010
Inflated claim by Paul Smith, running for Congress vs Matsui

Challenger Paul Smith, running against incumbent Doris Matsui in the Congressional District 5 race, has sent out this message, titled "Bee Endorsement":


"Not only has my opponent not shown up in this election, the Sacramento Bee has refused to endorse her too! You'd expect the hometown incumbent to get the nod from the hometown newspaper!"


The reality: The Bee editorial board does not endorse in non-competitive races.


The Bee endorsed Matsui in the 2005 Special Election and the 2006 Election.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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