Why we gave $500 to a clerk-recorder campaign

Our family has never contributed to a political campaign before, because it’s a conflict of interest for a paid, news-gathering journalist to make one. (It happens, though).

I’m not being paid to write a blog, mind you, but it’s my duty to disclose any political contributions, stockholdings or whatever when it’s relevant. Readers deserve to know.

For us, donating $500 to incumbent Greg Diaz’s campaign for clerk-recorder will be our first and only political campaign contribution. It’s just not our style.

It’s ironic, too, that our contribution is for a county clerk-recorder — one of the most low-profile, nonpartisan positions I can think of. We’re not exactly going out on a limb, it would seem.

But we wanted to make a point: Greg is the most qualified candidate for the position. He’s worked in an elections office for years. Too many of our nonpartisan positions have become politicized.

I hope some of our county supervisors and other elected officials agree and publicly endorse Greg. I hope the local media does a much better job of holding candidates accountable for their qualifications.

At the county supervisor’s meeting this week, I was surprised when some board members seemed awfully worked up about Greg’s plan to, well, increase county revenue by raising some recording fees. It sounded more like an inquisition (and politically motivated) at times.

I mean here’s a guy who has turned around the clerk-recorder’s office, with a smaller staff, after it was largely disgraced by his predecessor. He also helped bring a statewide conference here, the California County Recorders’ Association. All told, he should be praised.

Diaz’ would-be opponent Attorney Barry Pruett is less qualified to be clerk-recorder. Just compare their resumes: Our family is old school in that regard.

Barry’s spouse Kim, and he’s glad to disclose this, works for Congressman Tom McClintock’s office. The Pruett’s also are active Tea Party Patriot supporters.

I’m disturbed about the ongoing trend in our county where people who run for elected positions aren’t qualified enough. Some require specific skill sets — and experience.

I also don’t think Sue Horne and Ted Owens are as qualified to be county Assessors as many other professionals here, beyond their name recognition.

Don’t get me wrong: I am fond of all of them.

I’ve enjoyed my breakfast at IHOP with Kim, Sue’s sendoff at the Alta Sierra Country Club as a supervisor, and visiting with Ted at this year’s Memorial Day celebration at the Truckee Cemetery.

Most of the meetings were family affairs, where our 7-year-old son tagged along.

If Barry decides to run for clerk-recorder, I hope he explains why he’s the most qualified for this low-key, specialized, nonpartisan position.

For his part, Greg is a “decline to state” voter, though I think it’s a fair bet he’s voted for more Democrats than Republicans. When he was invited, Greg agreed to march as Obama in the Constitution Day Parade in Nevada City last year, a just-for-fun event.

I’m a “decline to state” voter, who has voted for Republicans and Democrats over the years. My wife is a registered Republican, but she has voted for Democrats.

Here’s the bottom line: We need to encourage more qualified people to run for our elected offices. We have tons of experienced professional people in our community, and we need to encourage them to participate more.

Most of our problems — running elections, infrastructure, schools — are nonpartisan ones and need to be solved with a nonpartisan mindset. Politics should stay out of it.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

5 thoughts on “Why we gave $500 to a clerk-recorder campaign”

  1. Not always in agreement with you, However in this case fully!

    Mr. Diaz has done an excellent job. Cleaned up that office with integrity, dignity and class.

  2. I totally agree. Good for you.

    What you wrote here in January is all the more true now at the end of March.

    Gregory Zaller

  3. Some out of work individuals with names and politicl connections are attracted to the nice salary and benefits which go along with the non-partisan professional offices. They seem not to realize that expertise in the field, backed up by professional experience and education, are needed to qualify them for the office and guarantee success should they win election. Nevada County cannot, and should not, fund those who are essentially political appointees to head a government division without really knowing anything about the work to be done

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