Did School Board Candidate Violate ‘Clean Campaign’ Pledge? - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Did School Board Candidate Violate ‘Clean Campaign’ Pledge?



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In the waning days of the 2020 election, the two local school board candidates are sparring over accusations about a clean campaign pledge.

All three candidates vying for the State Center Community College District Area 2 trustee seat signed a voluntary document pledging to campaign fairly.

Administered by the Secretary of State and filed with the Fresno County Clerk’s office, incumbent Eric Payne and challengers Nasreen Johnson and Sevag Tateosian agreed to seven principles including an open and honest discussion of the issues, not to demean an opponent’s character, and condemning others who make such an attack.

Payne, running for his third term, is alleging in a Facebook post that Tateosian violated the pledge.

A Voluntary Pledge

Candidates may voluntarily sign a fair campaign practices pledge when they file to run, according to election code.

On his Facebook page, Tateosian posted an image comparing himself to Johnson. It shows a complimentary photo of Tateosian next to a unflattering picture of Johnson.

“November 3rd is around the corner. My interest? Higher completion rates, stronger vocational/technical training, upgraded first responder program and financial education back into the classroom! Surprisingly, not everyone agrees…” the post says.

Payne said this violated the second plank of the code:

“I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT the use of character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks on any candidate or his or her personal or family life.”

Tateosian didn’t think much of Payne’s accusation.

“While I work on plans to strengthen our First Responders Academy and improve our colleges, I hope Eric enjoys his final weeks in office as I know he has quite a hefty amount of debts to repay to the FPPC,” Tateosian said in via text message.

Earlier in the election, public interest group Common Sense Information sent anti-Payne mailers to voters. Payne called that racist.

Payne, Tateosian Argue on Facebook

Payne replied, calling out Tateosian.

“It’s disgusting that while you signed the disclosure that you would run a clean campaign free of attacks, you have continued to tell lies and now you have resorted to this attack ad, as the only woman in this race, the verbal abuse and demeaning images are not warranted against Nasreen Johnson — How would you like it if someone treated your wife, mother, or sister this way …. You wouldn’t, I’m sure. If anything your the Bully in this race,” Payne wrote.

Tateosian responded with a message about a Payne controversy.

“Please pay your fines, Eric Payne,” Tateosian wrote.

The Fair Political Practices Commission, the state agency in charge of campaign finance, fined Payne $54,000 for several violations. He has yet to pay his fine.

“Keep my name and hers out your mouth,” Payne replied.

Johnson did not post and did not respond to GV Wire’s℠ request for a comment.

Read the Pledge Signed By the Candidates


Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email