San Jose Inside found out the hard way to be wary of press releases when they are dated April 1.
An email sent out by public relations firm owner Darlene Tenes announced that San Jose Parks and Recreation commissioner Mary Ann Ruiz had launched a last minute write-in campaign for the San Jose City Council District 7 seat currently occupied by Madison Nguyen.
And a credible-looking website on the social network Ning encouraged sign-ups and promised endorsements soon.
Though Ruiz had been thinking aloud about a city council run, the announcement was in fact part of an elaborate political prank orchestrated by Tenes.
Ruiz would have been a formidable candidate had she chosen to pull papers. An environmentalist with a master’s degree in the field, she’s lived in the district forever, is highly regarded in political circles and has served on the County Planning Commission and the City of San Jose’s Sunshine Reform Task Force. Ruiz managed environmental programs in the European Union for the carmaker Volvo and operated the Enviru environmental consulting firm before working in the executive suite of the San Jose Water District, giving her big corporate, small business and public sector experience.
“Are you serious?,” Ruiz told San Jose Inside when we innocently called her for a quote about her candidacy. “I’ll have to call you back.”
“I was getting e-mails and phone calls and people were asking me ‘why didn’t I tell them,’ and ‘what’s going on, how can we get involved?’ I was completely confused,” Ruiz says. “Then I got your call, and I found out that some good friends thought it would be very funny to play a joke.”
Still, Ruiz says a real run for council in the future is not out of the question.
The fake press release noted that Ruiz “recently graduated from the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, which is a leadership development program for Latinas becoming political leaders.”
The address of Ruiz’s alleged April 4 “Campaign Launch Party” is listed as 25 Post Street, San Jose. The spot appears to be a random real estate office space next to Dream Jewelers and Acapulco Jewelers in downtown San Jose.
Perhaps Ruiz’s friends are in the market for a diamond ring graduation present?