East Side School Trustee Has Strategy to End Negative Campaign Tactics

As the mayoral race heats up, it’s safe to assume some candidates will resort to personal attacks against their opponents. But Manuel Herrera, a trustee of the East Side Union High School District, has a plan counteract the negativity.

“This is something that’s been percolating in my mind for years,” Herrera said. “I’m sick of how nasty and toxic attack-style campaigning has become.”

The strategy, which he calls “The People Speak,” is based on the idea that a 5 to 10 percent margin of voters determines the election results for candidates, especially in a hotly contested incumbent-free race like next year’s mayor’s race. If Herrera could enlist that margin of what he calls “frontline voters,” up to 15,000 sure-to-vote residents, he could leverage that influence to compel candidates to be respectful of one another using a system of set rewards and consequences.

Rewards include what he calls “Oprah style” town hall forums, media packets and an introduction to high-propensity voters. Punishment amounts to public shaming.

“When frontline voters receive a piece of literature that does not comply with campaign standards … they will take steps to ‘boomerang’ the errant piece of literature,” Herrera explains on his website. “Frontline voters will draw a large ‘X’ across the entirety of the panel containing their name and address, sign it and inscribe a tweet-like rejection message that also indicates the number of voters they personally influence.”

Herrera wants other communities to adopt similar agreements to change public discourse, which he says has been “hijacked by people who play a very cynical, lowball game of winning at any cost.”

A presentation outlining the plan is scheduled for 5:30pm Friday in the boardroom of ESUHSD, located at 830 N. Capitol Ave. in San Jose.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

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