Are Manteca Unified School District’s two newly-elected trustees — Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson — legal residents of the areas they were elected to represent?
With less than three weeks before the Manteca Unified board is expected to certify results and swear in the new Lathrop and Manteca trustees, no official action has been taken by the Secretary of State saying whether a complaint filed with their office is legitimate or not.
The evidence to make such a decision is right there in ink – scrawled multiple times on multiple pages on candidacy declaration documents that one has to swear under the penalty of perjury that they’re absolutely telling the truth on.
And as of right now, the only way that anybody can see a copy of such a document is to physically go down to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Office and examine it with their own eyes.
No photos can be taken. No copies can be made. The documents can’t be scanned in and attached as part of an email.
And now that Drain and Bronson – the two candidates with serious residency questions – were overwhelmingly elected, the push to get those documents made public has begun.
A request made by the Bulletin to get physical copies of a handful of documents that investigators would use as the starting point to verify whether they are legal residents of the respective areas they were elected to represent was declined by the registrar’s office on Monday after the request was forwarded to county counsel. The counsel made the determination that the status of a candidate’s nomination papers don’t change simply because they’ve been elected.
The Bulletin requested the copies of the public documents so they could be reproduced in the newspaper and posted on the paper’s website so voters could examine the nomination papers firsthand since a question has been formally raised whether election fraud was possibly committed. Bulletin reporters have already visually inspected the documents and verified with a resident at the Manteca address that Bronson said he lived at that they did not know of him nor had he ever lived there. Drain had listed her address there as well but then crossed it out.
The official “Contest/Candidate Proof List” posted on the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters’ website lists mailing addresses that do not have to correspond to the address where candidates are registered to vote.
While Drain’s shows her mailing address is Black Rose Lane in Weston Ranch, she at one point contended she lived in Lathrop while other information pointed to her living in Stockton. The district that Drain was elected to primarily represents Lathrop and not any part of Weston Ranch which is represented by Sam Fant.
In Bronson’s case, the mailing address he gave is also the same Manteca address where residents say they had never heard of him before.
Whether the county counsel’s stance will change pending the outcome of an inquiry by the California Secretary of State’s Investigative Services division – which has been looking into allegation of improprieties for months – remains to be seen.
Bronson, a Lincoln High School graduate that attended college at the University of Southern California, was completely absent during the campaign but had absolutely no problem beating longtime incumbent Manuel Medeiros. He appeared at his first board meeting last week and declined to speak to Bulletin reporter Rose Albano Risso.
Drain, an East Union High candidate, did some campaigning.