This week could go a long way toward cementing or sinking the reelection hopes of county Clerk/Recorder Gregory Diaz, who is facing two opponents in the June election.
Nevada County is one of the few counties test driving the state’s new vote-by-mail system, and the test will begin this week with the mailing of ballots to all registered voters in the county and the opening of voting centers for those who don’t want to mail back their ballots or prefer to vote in person.
Diaz is basing his reelection campaign on his professional expertise–he’s been clerk/recorder since 2007–so the smoothness with which the new voting process proceeds will be a referendum on his competence.
His two opponents–Mary Anne Davis, events manager at The Union newspaper (where I’m a freelance columnist), and Elise Strickler, an analyst in the county CEO’s office–have no experience in the field. (Strickler worked in Diaz’s office for four years in another capacity.)
Diaz likes to tout his expertise when it comes to running elections, but his track record in Nevada County does not instill confidence that everything will go smoothly.
Ballots sent to vote-by-mail voters for the 2016 general election were missing a page listing nine of 17 state propositions and three local measures. “The page just didn’t get stuffed in the ballot by the printer,” an election office employee explained.
Managing outside vendors has been a recurring problem for Diaz’s office. Ballots in 2016 (late getting verified) and 2014 (printing error) were delayed because of screw ups that weren’t caught by his office. Then there’s his interpretation of election law, something he’s supposed to know.
Americans for Safe Access Nevada County launched a drive in 2014 to quality a medical marijuana initiative for the ballot. State law required the promoters to obtain valid signatures of 20 percent of county residents who voted in the most recent governor’s election.
In this case, that was 2010, when 45,657 votes were cast in the county for governor. That meant the promoters needed to obtain a minimum of 9,131 valid signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.
But Diaz came up with another number, claiming they needed to obtain 9,928 signatures, 20 percent of all voters even if they didn’t cast a vote in the governor’s race. Diaz was the only clerk/recorder in the state to come up with that novel interpretation. He eventually reversed himself.
WHERE’S WALDO? Is Diaz actually running a reelection campaign? If you Google “Gregory Diaz for county clerk/recorder” you get…nothing. No campaign web site, no Facebook page. Davis has both and Strickler has a Facebook page.
Maybe he’s trying to emulate former county Clerk/Recorder Kathleen Smith, who spent no money on advertising and did practically no campaigning when she ran for the office in 2006. The Union endorsed Diaz, but Smith won anyway.