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Publication Date: Friday, August 23, 2002

Mayor's assembly opponent claims ballot fraud Mayor's assembly opponent claims ballot fraud (August 23, 2002)

Republican candidate Stan Kawczynski and attorney Gary Wesley claim Sally Lieber's ballot designation sexist, fraudulent Republican candidate Stan Kawczynski and attorney Gary Wesley claim Sally Lieber's ballot designation sexist, fraudulent (August 23, 2002)

By Bill D'Agostino

Mayor Sally Lieber's opponent for the state assembly -- Sunnyvale Republican Stan Kawczynski -- legally challenged her self-given title of "councilwoman" and "transit director" on the November ballot, calling them "sexist" and "a fraud upon the public," respectively, in court documents filed in Sacramento this week.

Lieber, a council member since 1998, is currently running on the Democratic ticket in the 22nd district of the assembly. The legal petition Kawczynski filed alleges that Lieber's designation -- her stated occupation or title -- should be modified to read: "councilmember."

The case will go before a judge in Sacramento Superior Court on Aug. 27 at 8:30 a.m. to make the state's deadline for printing the ballot. During the court proceeding, the onus will be on Lieber to prove the labels that she listed on her candidacy declaration are accurate, according to a representative from the Secretary of State's office.

The elections code states that a candidate must limit their designation to "principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nominations documents."

Lieber said she used the term "transit director" because in 2001 she served as Mountain View's representative to the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board of Directors. Those positions rotate among council members from various cities in the county every two years. The board sets the policy for the transit agency.

Although Kawczynski's petition acknowledges that Lieber did serve on the board of directors, he said that, in his opinion, she served on a VTA "committee," and not the actual board.

"That's misleading to the public that she actually did these things especially when she said she's for mass transit and for transit this and for transit that," he said. "So it's making it look like she actually worked for these things, and she actually directed policy in some sense. Well she really didn't do that. I think it's misleading."

The actual petition -- filed by Kawczynski, a former Sunnyvale council member, and his attorney, council critic Gary Wesley - alleges that "her status as a VTA board member never could qualify as an elective office or a profession, vocation or occupation. ... Use of the term 'transit director' is more than wrong -- it is a fraud upon the public."

Lieber said she was merely reusing the titles she listed on the March primary ballot, which had already been accepted by the Secretary of State and county elections officials. "Obviously it's within Mr. Kawczynski's purview to make whatever claims he wants to -- that's a part of our system," she said.

In a Tuesday fax, Wesley made the claim that Lieber knew she couldn't list her board title because it was an appointed position, but felt she could get away with it because the Secretary of State's office "does not, as a rule, consider the truth or falsity of claimed professions."

The petition also argues that the term "coucilwoman" is wrong because it is sexist, and not the preferred term of the city charter. "The sexist term 'councilman' was dropped from the Mountain View City Charter many years ago," Wesley wrote in the petition.

"I don't know very many cities that go by the term councilman anymore," Kawczynski said. "As far as I know most cities use 'council member' because of the P.C. standing that's going on these days."

Kawczynski, who lists his designation as independent financial consultant," added that he asked Lieber to change the designation earlier in the year but she refused.

It's been a busy summer for Wesley: this suit is the second one he has filed against city officials.

In July, Wesley sued the city and the council for: 1) having a member, Ralph Faravelli, sit on the council despite not being a registered voter in the city; 2) not complying with public records requests; and 3) not hiring an independent auditor. City Attorney Michael Martello called all of Wesley's claims "baseless."

Wesley is the city council's most active critic and has sued the city eight times.

In 2000, he represented Kawczynski in a case against the city of Sunnyvale challenging ballot statements it wrote for Measure S, a measure to fluoridate the city's water. The petition was denied and Measure S passed despite Kawczynski's opposition.

Kawczynski ardently opposes fluoridating water, which is believed to strengthen children's teeth with minimal side effects in the small doses included in most cities' water supplies.

"We know that chlorine's bad for you, now we're finding out flouride's bad for you, and who knows what else in our water is bad for you." Kawczynski said. "So if Ms. Lieber claims she's environmentally conscious, why is she supporting these things? Because a few doctors or dentists are saying that? Dentists are saying that fluoride is great for you but isn't that a conflict of interest on their part ... they make money if fluoride is bad for you."

In March, Lieber scored a surprise victory when she won the Democratic assembly primary over fellow Council member Rosemary Stasek and Santa Clara Council member Rod Diridon Jr. She ran on a liberal platform, including environmental reform.

In the November general election, Lieber will face Kawczynski and Libertarian Kennita Watson. Due to the political makeup of the heavily Democratic district, Lieber is the early favorite to win.

Kawczynski believes he has a good shot, however. "I'm not what the usual Republican candidate has been," he said. "I'm a moderate."
E-mail Bill D'Agostino at


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