Stafford Municipal School District administrators denounced an unauthorized campaign flier they say was posted on district property and endorsed three candidates for the election that ended last Saturday.
Superintendent Robert Bostic said the flier, which endorsed A.J. Honore for Stafford mayor, Auturo Jackson for city council and Alicia Lacy-Castille for the school board, contained school district letterhead but was not authorized by the district. The flier said it came from “ShaMekka Ludd (Pratt-Simmons),” a former school board member who resigned in 2012, and it may have been distributed to members of the community leading up to the election.
It is unclear if Pratt-Simmons, who could not be reached for comment, had anything to do with it.
“It’s illegal, and we don’t do it,” Bostic said of endorsing political candidates. “We don’t do that kind of work.”
Two of the endorsed candidates said they were not responsible for the flier, which encouraged recipients to take advantage of the early voting period from April 22-30.
Stafford City Councilman Cecil Willis said he had several Stafford residents contact him after receiving fliers.
“Nobody from my campaign has had any communication with that person,” said Honore, who lost to longtime Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella. “When I got the call, it was as much a surprise to me as anybody.”
Jackson, who is preparing for a runoff election, said much the same.
“I had no knowledge of the incident, nor do I condone the misuse or inappropriate use of materials, people, or resources,” he said. “Unfortunately, during this election cycle, we have had instances where individuals haven’t used the best judgement in an effort to help candidates and campaigns. Some of those incidents are still being reviewed and addressed. It’s time for the Stafford community to come together and move forward.”
Bostic said he first learned of the flier through a text message he received the morning of April 24.
“We’ve always had small hints of candidate vs. candidate before, where they’ll try to use information from a previous election for something, but this is the first time it has really gotten the school district and school board involved,” he said.
Bostic, who began serving as superintendent during the 2014-15 school year, said the unauthorized use of the school district’s logo was unprecedented since his tenure began. School board president Chris Caldwell, who came on board the same year as Bostic, echoed the sentiment.
“It’s the very first time where someone has knowingly, willingly and intentionally misused and misaligned our logos and insignias,” Caldwell said. “I’ve never seen it to this extent.”
Before the election, Bostic said the district posted notices about the unauthorized flier on its website, the city’s website and even the mayor’s office website. They addressed the subject on the district’s social media pages as well. Some community members still approached the board thinking the district was aligned with or against certain candidates.
“We want there to be no question as to where we stand, how we stand, and why we stand,” Caldwell said.