Mountain View Voice

News - November 2, 2012

School board candidate's advertorial snafu

by Nick Veronin

A candidate running for the local elementary and middle school district's board of trustees said he thought he was being truthful when he claimed in a political advertisement that a former Mountain View city manager opposed a recent education bond measure.

The half-page advertisement promoting Steven Nelson's bid for the Mountain View Whisman School District's board appeared on page 14 of the Oct. 26 Voice. In the ad, Nelson wrote: "After I asked Kevin Duggan (former City Manager) to read the Bond G Budget — he said he withdrew his G endorsement. Too bad glossy political mail did not reflect that uncomfortable truth."

The "Bond G" referenced in Nelson's advertisement is Measure G — the $198 million school bond approved by local voters in June. Nelson was a vocal opponent of the bond, not because he opposed bringing more money into the school district, he said, but because he felt school district officials did not seek out sufficient community input before placing the measure on the ballot.

Duggan, however, was not an opponent of the measure and said he never withdrew support for the bond.

"I was sent (after it was published) a copy of the ad," Duggan wrote in an email to the Voice. "I was not aware in advance that I would be mentioned in such an ad and would have declined being so represented if I had been contacted. I did not withdraw my endorsement of the measure and do not know why Mr. Nelson thought I did so."

Duggan said that while Nelson contacted him about his concerns about Measure G prior to the June election, he informed Nelson that he had already endorsed the measure and would not rescind his endorsement.

"I have no idea why or how Mr. Nelson reached the conclusion that I had done so or why he decided to reference me in his ad without contacting me in advance."

Nelson acknowledged that Duggan had told him at one point that he was in favor of Measure G, and confirmed that he had not contacted the former city manager to inform him of the advertisement. But, Nelson added, "my understanding and Kevin's seem to be different on the matter."

According to Nelson, he asked Duggan to read the fine print of the measure and about a month later asked the former city manager, in person, whether he had changed his mind. From that face-to-face conversation, Nelson said, "I understood he (Duggan) had sent an email asking that his name be taken off the endorsement list."

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