You don’t have to look far to understand why voters are so cynical about elected government officials.
Disgraced Aurora Public Schools Board member Eric Nelson is the poster child for electoral malfeasance. He’s been caught red-handed falsifying his education and military credentials for years, and using his fictitious biography to get elected to the APS board.
Despite the rouse to tout a practically non-existent military career and cadre of college degrees, Nelson was turned back by Democrats in June when he tried to win a primary election for an Aurora state House seat.
But rather than slink away in shame after being publicly outed as a fraud and hoax, he’s dug in on the school board and refused repeated calls to resign.
The APS board has no power to remove him from the school board, and can only prevent him from representing the school district, officially, outside of the district.
That leaves one practical option: recall. If Nelson won’t take the initiative to do the right thing after so clearly doing the wrong thing for years, he has to be ousted by voters.
It could be that given repeated public pressure to resign because of his exposed frauds, that he’ll relent and step away from the school board. But if he doesn’t, local schools supporters should begin the process of recall, which in theory could coincide with the current general election.
But even if a special election is required, the expense would be well worth invoking Nelson’s expulsion.
It’s critical that Nelson be replaced with a reputable and credible representative to help guide the district through this critical time. The district is struggling with Aurora Central High School’s threatened state takeover, and much of the rest of the district is troubled by trying to right seriously deficient standardized test scores.
But just as important, it’s unfathomable that someone would be able to perpetrate such a repugnant fraud without real repercussions. Part of Nelson’s invented biography included being a decorated Air Force soldier. He could well be in violation of the nation’s “stolen valor” act, penalizing those who lie about receiving military merits and awards.
But beyond that, Nelson must pay the price for his deceit, rather than just ignore it because he doesn’t have the decency to resign due to committing the fraud. Even if it’s not cheap, the price of preserving the integrity of elected office and the integrity of future elections is well worth cleaning the mess up, and sending a message that could prevent similar stunts in the future