Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson ran for the Manteca Unified School District listing their occupation as “educators.”
This strikes a few people as criminal as the two do not equate “educator” to what many would view as a term applied per se to teachers, professors, and such. The broad definition of educator is “a person who performs instruction or education.” By that definition Bronson with experience as a Stockton Boys & Girls Club tutor and Bronson tutoring youth on her own certainly would qualify as educators. It also means anyone who instructs, mentors, or educates — a coach teaching a kid how to throw a ball, a parent potty training their kid, or a drug dealer teaching someone the ropes of pushing meth.
Drain and Bronson, though, aren’t in trouble with the people of San Joaquin County whose duly elected District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar has filed felony charges against them for calling themselves educators. The pair are facing charges for essentially lying under penalty of perjury that they resided in Manteca when they filed nomination papers for the purpose of specifically representing Manteca residents on the Manteca Unified School District board. At the time both were legal residents of Stockton.
Yes, everyone is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law but in this case justice would have to be brain dead and not simply blind to find them not guilty.
There is little doubt Drain is passionate. Just ask the district employees including a custodian, office clerk and principal caught up in herself righteous crusade to dole out her own brand of justice as a supposedly “duly elected” trustee.
Bronson is smart and a visionary. It’s hard not to be impressed with his idealism and his more grounded passion.
That said one doesn’t create a strong foundation for positive change by building it on a house of cards.
This is not a simple case of lying or fibbing in the belief the ends justify the means.
It is a crime committed against each and every law-abiding resident of Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp, the Weston Ranch portion of Stockton and the rural areas within the school district.
The right to vote in elections that are held in accordance with laws designed to assure that the process is fair and not subject to fraud is the linchpin for American democracy.
Equally important is an educator worth their salt does no favors for the person they are “educating” if they engage in lying especially when doing so under penalty of perjury.
Every day the 23,500 students in Manteca Unified are schooled in “Character Counts.” The pillars of Character Counts are trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility, caring, respect, and citizenship.
It’s tough to be trustworthy if you knowingly lie under threat of perjury.
It’s certainly not fair to your opponent if you run for office and don’t play by the rules.
It’s not responsible to build a career of public service on a lie.
It’s definitely not caring if you believe rules are for everyone else but not you.
It’s not showing respect to the voters to deliberately deceive them.
It’s certainly not good citizenship to flaunt basic election laws.
There are some who might think that this is a mistake chalked up to being young as neither Bronson and Drain have reached the 25-year mark so therefore there should simply be hand slapped and removal from office.
But then you realize that is a slap in the face of other Twenty Somethings who do the right thing day in and day out.
Then there is the little detail that you can’t overlook — how did Bronson and Drain come up with the same Manteca address especially since neither knew each other before the election?
Who came up with the Manteca address that both Bronson and Drain happen to jot down on their nomination papers filed on different days? Is there a third party that conspired to commit election fraud out there that has yet to be brought to justice?
Then there is the question of what happens until the wheels of justice makes a final decision. If there is a 4-3 vote to pass or reject a proposal before the school board that was made possible by a majority consisting of Drain and Bronson it could be challenged as an invalid decision once they are found to not have been legal candidates.
The best would be for Drain and Bronson to resign now.
If that doesn’t happen, the DA might want to broker a deal. In exchange for providing the name of the individual who gave both Bronson and Drain the same exact Manteca address both used on their nomination papers independent of each other as well as resigning office immediately, the DA might want to downgrade the felony.
What Bronson and Drain are accused of doing is serious.
But it is clear that using the same exact address they did under the circumstances there is someone who conspired to not just hijack the election but control of the Manteca Unified School District board as well.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.