Up until Friday, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors race had been very civil. Candidates were reaching out to potential constituents to talk about issues and focus on what could be done to improve the county as a whole.
With less than a week until election day, the focus has shifted to the academic qualifications of the candidates. A Patch reader who will remain anonmymous pointed out inconsistencies in Carlos Romero's 2008 campaign statements and his actual academic accomplishments.
Both Menlo Park newspapers The Almanac and the Post reported that Romero had a bachelor's degree from Stanford University in articles about his bid for a position on the East Palo Alto City Council. However, Romero told Patch that he does not have an undergraduate degree. He said none of the campaign literature that he's published since 2008 ever claimed he does.
Stanford University does not release degree verification paperwork to members of the public or media. It will only release that to the person who took classes at the academic institution.
Romero confirmed Tuesday that he left classes during his final year of undergrad to pursue an opportunity that would empower people of color to address issues of self determination.
"I was working on field research in Mexico, doing independent study, to round out my honors thesis," he said, describing the extracurricular activities that introduced him to "his calling." He had been working in East Palo Alto for about four years on urban development policy and community organizing. His professors had profoundly influenced the way he looked at social movements. They inspired him to move out of the traditional classroom into the experiential one.
"I found much more relevance in the work that I had been doing in East Palo Alto for the past four and a half years," he said, noting that these years were fundamental in shaping who he is today.
"What really counts is how you can affect the lives of your fellow human beings. If some folks want to say that I'm less complete of a person, if they want to be mired in their own academic self consciousness, let them do so. For me it was certainly not an impediment."
The confusion stems from a League of Women Voters candidate forum in which he said he has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University. He said that was a misstatement and encouraged voters to move forward.
"For me this is an election about the issues," Romero said. "I don't want to stray because of someone's ad hominem attack."
Mr. Romero shared a full statement about the issue with Patch. We share it with you, so that you can make an informed deicision in this election.
Statement issued by Carlos Romero
Let me state for the record that I do not have a degree from Stanford even though I attended the University for over four years. It was not my intent to mislead anyone. I stand by my education at Stanford and Harvard as well as by my professional, legislative and political accomplishments.
I have not claimed in written statements or other materials in this race or in my 2008 race for East Palo Alto City Council that I earned a degree at Stanford. This includes my campaign materials, ballot statements and questionnaire responses. As for the 2008 video from my run for the East Palo Alto City Council in which I stated that I earned an undergraduate degree at Stanford, I make no excuses for what I said. It was just wrong, a momentary lapse of judgment by an inexperienced politician in a public forum and I apologize.
I spent over four years pursuing a degree in International Relations and Economics at Stanford, but because of my community organizing work in East Palo Alto, I put off the final course work. At that time in my young adult life, I found the incorporation of the City of East Palo Alto very compelling, a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved in empowering a marginalized community of color. That experiential classroom rounded out my Stanford schooling.
My Harvard credentials are not under question, having studied at Harvard, first as a Fannie Mae Fellow in a 1-month program in the Kennedy School of Government. The second time, I was selected as a Harvard Loeb Fellow in the Graduate School of Design, a unique opportunity that provides a year of graduate study for ten mid-career professionals in fields related to the urban and natural environment. I studied urban planning, land use and transportation, national housing policy and advanced real estate finance and capital markets at Harvard and MIT.
I am committed to this race until the end and to the issues I have championed that are central to this county—our looming deficit, pension reform, my opposition to a new jail and the financial burden it will bring to taxpayers, the loss of city redevelopment agencies, among numerous others. My varied mix of education, experience, and skills, evidenced over a rich 29-year career rolling up my shirt sleeves to improve the lives of others, tells the real story of who I am and why I have chosen to run for this seat.
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