Complaints filed over candidate’s ballot designation
Outgoing Health Care District Board appointee Leah Williams has filed a trio of complaints against one of her successful competitors in that race, claiming Elliott Gorelick misled voters by listing his profession as “pharmacist.” But Gorelick said he properly listed “intern pharmacist” on his candidacy paperwork and that the designation was rejected by Alameda County elections officials.
Williams said she filed complaints on Wednesday with the Alameda County District Attorney, the California Secretary of State and the Board of Pharmacy saying Gorelick misrepresented his qualifications. She accused him of fudging his credentials to try to gain the confidence of voters by listing himself on the ballot as a medical professional.
“We deserve someone on the board of the hospital who doesn’t misrepresent themselves,” Williams told The Island last week.
Gorelick said he gave county election his proper title and that they changed it. And he said that if Williams felt he misrepresented himself on the ballot, she could have challenged it before the election.
“She should have done her research and looked at what I filed with the county,” he said. “And now she’s smearing me because she lost.”
The elections code that governs ballot designations requires the Secretary of State to reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation that would mislead voters. Anyone can challenge a designation they believe to be misleading, but such challenges typically are made before a contest is decided.
Gorelick came in third place in the hospital board contest, earning a seat on the board. Williams, who ran to retain the seat she was appointed to in December 2009, did not. But she said the loss wasn’t what led her to file the complaints.
“It’s not about me and whether I won the election. It’s about whether it’s okay for someone to say they have qualifications they don’t have,” Williams said. She said she thinks Gorelick should have corrected the ballot designation.
Gorelick gave a reporter a copy of a ballot designation worksheet he filled out on which he listed “intern pharmacist” as his proposed ballot designation. He also listed two alternate designations: “pharmacist” and “student.”
“As a student doing my internships to become an RPh and as an employee of Kaiser w/the job class of intern pharmacist, I think it applies,” Gorelick wrote on the form.
In her complaints to the district attorney’s office and state pharmacy board, copies of which were provided to The Island, Williams accused Gorelick of attempting to “nuance” his position by stating in public forums that he is a pharmacy student, and not a licensed pharmacist. In response to a questionnaire sent out by The Island, he listed himself as “Student/Intern Pharmacist.”
Gorelick forwarded a link he wrote about his candidacy for the University at California, San Francisco student newspaper in which he also describes having his title changed by the county. Williams forwarded the same link, saying Gorelick was using his position on the paper to “brag about misleading the citizens of Alameda.” She wrote a letter to UCSF’s pharmacy school dean, Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, and a host of other administrators at the school to complain.
“The profession that would be listed on the ballot did cause some consternation on the part of the county staff when neither ‘intern pharmacist’ or ‘student pharmacist’ fit into the regulatory framework used to determine official titles. The concern was that the modifiers were titles which are not allowed,” Gorelick wrote in Thursday’s edition of Synapse, the UCSF student newspaper. “I left that day thinking that I would be listed as either ‘intern pharmacist’ or ‘pharmacy intern,’ but that changed sometime prior to the printing of the ballots.”
Secretary of State spokeswoman Shannan Velayas couldn’t confirm a complaint had been filed. But she said if her office found any evidence of wrongdoing, it would be forwarded to the district attorney’s office. A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Pharmacy board spokeswoman Virginia Herold said the complaint to her agency would have to be investigated, but she wasn’t sure Gorelick’s alleged actions would require discipline. She said an intern can do the same things as a licensed pharmacist, as long as they are under the supervision of one.
“This is all new to me. I don’t think we’ve had this kind of complaint at all,” Herold said.