High Files Complaint with SBE

Charlottesville School Board candidate Vance High has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections over comments made about his candidacy by Charlottesville Electoral Board member Joan Schatzman in a recent Daily Progress article, John Yellig writes in today’s Progress. From the article in question, which covered Saturday’s school board candidate forum:

Some audience members, who had not known much about the board members previously, left with strong impressions.

“I came here to be informed, to educate myself,” said Joan Schatzman, a Charlottesville resident. “I’m drawn toward Leah,” she said, “but I’m repelled by Vance.”

Electoral Board members are appointed based on their partisan affiliation, and there is no speech restriction that accompanies the appointment to the board. The SBE intends to take no action, as there is nothing for them to do. High says that he’s “not trying to void anybody’s First Amendment rights,” but that he thinks it’s unethical for a board member to talk about candidates.

I’m reminded of a candidate for local office several years ago who I blogged about after she was quoted by the Progress making a shockingly uninformed remark at a candidate forum. A year or so ago she discovered the blog entry, and she proceeded to send me vaguely threatening e-mail, demanding that I remove the offending Progress quote. Because I’m not a member of the media, she explained, I have no right to say anything about her or any other candidate for office. I refused, of course, and added her to my bozo filter in my e-mail client; she could be e-mailing me still, for all I know. (She’s taken to calling radio stations on which I’ve been a guest to complain about me being unethical, as evidenced by my heinous offense.)

It sucks being a candidate, because it means that total strangers may, for the duration of your candidacy, say horrible and critical things about you. It’s not much fun, but it comes with the territory, with everybody from Joe Blogger to Electoral Board members weighing in. C’est la vie.

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