By Marsha Sutton
ContributorA week after a League of Women Voters forum that introduced San Dieguito Union High School District school board candidates to the public, one candidate, John Salazar, sent an email to this newspaper blasting the lone incumbent, Barbara Groth, for “trying to mislead the voters” after she paid to have her name on a Republican slate mailer.
“Barbara Groth is a hypocrite,” Salazar wrote in the email. “She paid $375 to mislead the voters to thinking that she is a Republican.” Salazar’s agitation stemmed from Groth’s statement at the forum that she is nonpartisan.
“I am nonpartisan,” Groth reiterated, when contacted to comment on the criticism from Salazar who is a registered Republican.
Groth said she did not have to be a Republican to be included in the mailer. “It is supposed to go out to 14,000 homes that are registered Republican that vote on a regular basis,” she said. “It was mailed to high-propensity voters in our district.”
School board candidate Rick Shea also paid to be included on the same mailer.
Groth said she chose this company because it was less expensive than many others.
The mailer was produced by Hart and Associates of Newport Beach, a political consulting firm that provides, among other services, direct mail communications. Scott Hart of Hart and Associates said the Groth and Shea ads were purchased by John Wainio, president of the San Diego Group, a political consulting and public relations affairs firm in San Diego.
Although the name of the slate mailer is called “Continuing the Republican Revolution,” Hart said his mailers are open to any candidate for nonpartisan office, such as school board. “Basically, you’re purchasing advertising,” he said.
The candidates choose the words they want included on the mailer, and Hart said Groth described herself as: “Fiscal conservative with strong leadership experience.” The words Rick Shea chose were: “Will assure that our tax dollars are spent wisely.”
Hart said his firm is not a Republican organization and that his is one of dozens of groups doing slate mailers statewide. “We target high-propensity Republican voters,” he said. “It is not affiliated with any party. It’s a private slate organization, and people purchase space to advertise on it.”
Groth disagreed with Salazar’s contention that she was trying to disguise herself as a Republican.
“It’s getting my name out to voters who vote,” she said. “I looked at it as a way to get a mini-sign to 14,000 voters.”
Marsha Sutton can be reached at