Typically, candidates craft ballot titles that communicate what they do for a living in such a way that voters are more likely to votes for them. At the same time, the state Election Code places limitations on what they can choose.

Words with Candidates
Jose F. Moreno (1) initially chose the ballot designation “Professor/Trustee, Anaheim City School District.” This almost certainly violates the state Election Code section limiting ballot designations to three words, and so Moreno (1) has changed his designation to “Professor/School Boardmember.”

That would solve the three word limit problem…if “boardmember” was actually a word! Unfortunately for Moreno (1), “boardmember” is not a real word. Search for it on any number of online dictionaries: Dictionary.com asks, “Did you mean cardmember“? Merriam-Webster says “the word you entered isn’t in the dictionary” and gave me a spelling suggestion: barking deer. Cambridge Dictionaries does not have an entry for “boardmember” and The Free Dictionary reports it cannot be found in either the dictionary or the encyclopedia. 

So we find ourselves with an interesting situation: a candidate pointing to his school district record as a qualification for city council, using a made-up word to describe himself to voters.

What Is An Educator?

The senior member of the Tait Slate, Moreno’s ACSD Board colleague James Vanderbilt, chose “Educator/Army Captain” as his ballot designation. I assumed the “educator” claim stemmed from his job title with the California Department of Veterans Affairs: “Education Administrator.”

I was wrong. 

According to his ballot designation worksheet, this is his justification for choosing educator: “conduct military seminars and required training as a drilling an Army Captain in an active Troop Program Unit.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that is not the first — or even fifteenth — thing that comes to a voter’s mind when he or she thinks about the word “educator.” It’s more accurate to say that stretches the meaning of the word to the breaking point, or further.

Does conducting “how to flip houses” seminars make one an educator? Does providing ob training make one an educator? If holding a seminar or training people makes one an educator, then virtually anyone qualifies for that sobriquet. To paraphrase Dash Parr of The Incredibles: “When everyone’s an educator, no one is an educator.”

Because I Said So
The ballot designation worksheet asks candidates to substantiate the occupations claimed in their ballot titles.

The noxious Denis Fitzgerald, running for mayor again, selected “Retired Corporation President.” 

When asked to justify this title, one would expect Fitzgerald to note the name of the company and when he retired from being president.

Instead, Fitzgerald justifies his use of “Retired Corporation President” by writing “my principal profession before retirement.” In other words, he repeats the claim rather than providing a justification.

The worksheet also asks for the names and contact info for two people who can verify your ballot title justification. Fitzgerald lists “Bill Fitzgerald” and “Buddy Fitzgerald” – who I am sure can be counted on to provide objective testimony as to the truth or falsity of the claim by their father/brother/uncle/cousin.