A candidate for school board in Leavenworth and a sitting state representative have found themselves the target of “Cancel Culture.”
In the case of Mary Wood, the cancelation was — at least in part — successful.
Wood, a Republican, was fired from a job she’d held for 42 years after a campaign of harassment directed at her employer apparently coordinated, or at least suggested, on Facebook.
It all started recently when Wood’s estranged niece, Tara Sloan, who is a liberal activist in Portland got wind of Wood’s school board run.
Wood, who is opposed to the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, had approximately a year before gotten into a heated exchange with her niece over her Black Lives Matter activism.
Sloan apparently held on to those texts and when the timing was right — posted it to a Facebook page called “The Proctor Accountability Team,” where screenshots, since deleted, show Sloan posting a link to Wood’s employer, Hannah Orthodontics, and saying “If anyone wants to contact them.”
A person posting as Mike Stillwell then replied, “If I could do it while remaining completely anonymous I would.”
Wood admits that the exchange between her and her niece was — salty — to say the least, and that she phrased things in a way, on reflection, she shouldn’t have.
The page has since had its name changed to “The Eisenhower Project,” and many of the posts have since been deleted. Pat Proctor is a Republican state representative for Leavenworth and was the initial target of the page.
In the exchange, Wood suggested that both George Floyd — the African American man whose death sparked months of riots — and Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on his neck until he was dead were both “bad actors” and that both “should have been hung.”
Wood said those comments were not meant to be racial in any way, but simply that both Floyd and Chauvin were felons. She said, in retrospect, those comments were in poor taste, but noted they were part of a heated exchange between family members, and more than a year old.
Wood did not keep her copy of the texts, but all that is shown in the Facebook posts are Wood’s messages, not any response from Sloan.
Shortly after the text messages came to light, the calls and emails to Wood’s employer began and she was initially put on 30 days leave with her employer Dr. Richard Hannah — who took over the practice from his nephew in recent years — telling her it was to “let things cool down” in her words.
The next morning Wood was told, “they needed to part ways.”
Attempts to reach Hannah for comment were unsuccessful.
Wood remains in the race and has no intention of bowing out.
State rep called a Nazi
Wood is not the only target of a cancel mob in Leavenworth County. Rep. Pat Proctor has been a target as well.
“In addition to being state representative,” Proctor said. “I’m also the vice-chair of the Leavenworth County Republican Party and we worked really hard to put together a slate for the Leavenworth City Commission, Leavenworth School Board, and the Lansing School Board, and we got a candidate on the Lansing City Council. And I think we caught the Democrats flat-footed because for years Republicans have not cared about these races.”
Proctor said the candidates supported by his party are doing well post-primary and the “Democrats are just lashing out because they’re going to lose.”
Part of that “lashing out” has been for the chairman of the Leavenworth County Democratic Party to call a town hall meeting — at which he was not present — a “Nazi Bund” rally.
In a letter to the editor in the Leavenworth Times, Jeffrey Howards wrote: “The only thing missing at Proctor’s so-called town hall meeting were the Brown Shirts and Nazi flags. In 1938, my grandfather stood up to the Nazi Bund in New York and was severely beaten for his efforts … We need to stand up to Proctor and his Bund before it beats us down, too.”
Proctor said this is a standard tactic these days.
“If you don’t have a good argument, shut down the argument and attack the messenger,” he said.
Attempts to reach Howards for comment were unsuccessful. The Sentinel also reached out to the Leavenworth County Democratic Party and the Kansas Democratic party to ask if they supported or shared Howards’ comments, or if not, would Howards be held accountable — those attempts were likewise unsuccessful.
Johnson County candidates also attacked
The attack in Leavenworth County is not an isolated incident. The Kansas City Star recently speculated that pediatrician Dr. Christine White, a candidate for the Blue Valley board of education, may have lost her job because of pressure applied to her employer.
A group called Stand Up Blue Valley repeatedly makes false accusations about White and the other two candidates, Kaety Bowers and Jim McMullen. SUBV refuses to defend its claims in public forums and bans people who challenge them from commenting on their Facebook page.
Kansas Policy Institute CEO Dave Trabert has first-hand experience with SUBV’s false claims. KPI owns the Sentinel.
“I have a standing offer to join Stand Up Blue Valley representatives in a public forum so parents can hear the facts and make informed decisions, but they refuse to defend their claims. They cannot allow parents to see that SUBV is horribly deceiving them, so they hide from people with the truth.”
Trabert says an organized attack is underway in Shawnee Mission, which is conceptually related to the attacks in Blue Valley and Leavenworth. Each of the attacks targets candidates who are exposing low student achievement, which poses a threat to the administrators and board members who want parents kept in the dark.
Each district has a large portion of high school students below grade level in math and English language arts, and less than half of high school students in those districts are on track for college and career.
Trabert says parents demand change when they discover that they’ve been misled, and that threatens the established bureaucrats, who are more concerned about their power and legacy than academically preparing students to be successful in life.
(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Dr. Richard Hannah as Dr. Joseph Hannah and incorrectly identified them as father and son rather than nephew and uncle. The Sentinel regrets the error.)