Jason Baker led his candidate statement with his strongest bona fides: that he was mayor of Campbell, that he went to Santa Clara University School of Law and that he was a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service.
But when he got his voter guide in the mail last Friday, all three of those credentials were missing. And it wasnât for a lack of spaceâother contenders in the June 5 race for Santa Clara Countyâs District 4 supervisor seat ran statements several lines longer than Bakerâs.
âItâs disappointing because itâs missing some pretty important pieces of information,â Baker said. âThatâs why we put it at the top.â
He went back to review the emails he exchanged with the countyâs Registrar of Voters (ROV), which gave him a chance to proof the statement before it went to print. But there was no mistake there. Those lines were included in the draft he approved back in March.
ROV spokesman Eric Kurhi said the misprint was a vendor error, affected 174,000 votersâevery voter in the supervisor districtâand that his office is acting quickly to correct the mistake. An errata letter will be sent out with the full statements of all seven candidates in the D4 race and will be posted online and at all early voting centers.
âWe are doing everything we can to make sure that voters are made aware of the issue and receive the complete information,â Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey said.
The vendor will bear the cost of the reprinting, Kurhi said.
Baker noted that the ROV has a well-documented history of missteps. A state audit in 2017 found 26 errors in election materials provided by the ROV for review, including ballots sent with missing information.
Baker said the omissions from his candidate statement could potentially lose him votes.
âI put those things in there because wanted to let people know that Iâm proud of my Santa Clara roots,â he said. âI tried to highlight that by mentioning law school at Santa Clara University, which is where I met my wife.â
But now voters wonât know unless the ROV re-issues the statement.
âI just wish these things wouldnât happen,â Baker said.
Baker is up against six candidates in the race to succeed county Supervisor Ken Yeager: San Jose Councilman Don Rocha, former San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, San Jose Unified trustee Susan Ellenberg, Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta and grassroots candidates Mike Alvarado and Maria Hernandez.
Chris Roth, a political observer who ran for San Jose City Council in 2016, thought the ROV error seemed âquite suspiciousâ and a boon for one contender in particular.
âGiven the fact that the final print proof had already been approved by Bakerâs campaign, one would have to wonder next: which candidate would benefit the most from the county omitting this info?â Roth said. âThat line clearly points to Don Rocha, who was endorsed by two firefighter unions. Additionally, Rochaâs endorsements by three members of the [Board of Supervisors] reveal how easily this omission could be stealthily executed within the confines of the countyâs offices.â
Sources working on some of the other campaigns balked at that suggestion as accusatory, outrageously conspiratorial and not even worth a public response.
Bakerâs campaign consultant, Derek Jansen, who worked on Rothâs campaign two years ago, said heâs more concerned about how the ROV plans to remedy the situation.
âWeâre very concerned that Jason is the only candidate that was hurt by their mistake,â he said, âand now every other candidate will benefit from their proposed remedy.â
Later in the day Monday, Baker commended the ROV for agreeing to include in the errata letter an indication of how the omission affected his campaign specifically.
âThe office was helpful, cordial and decisive,â he said,âand I appreciate their help trying to make this right.â
Hereâs the draft statement that Baker OKâd in March.
And hereâs the statement that landed in votersâ mailboxes last week.
This article has been updated to include a response from the ROV.