Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sacramento Bee story on changes in the Secretary of State's office

Today's Sacramento Bee features a story about Alameda County Registrar Brad Clark's appointment in the Secretary of State's office, which is described as "a move intended to improve relations with county officials who soured on former Secretary of State Kevin Shelley."

More excerpts below:


Clark, 52, will become the assistant secretary of state for elections later this month, a position created to allow Clark to serve as a political appointee. In hiring Clark, McPherson displaced longtime state elections chief John Mott-Smith, who oversaw California's elections for 12 years under four different secretaries of state.

Mott-Smith has worked at the secretary of state's office for 21 years. He said Wednesday he is weighing his options, declining further comment.


"I think I'll be able to facilitate communication with the counties," Clark said. "Sometimes, the state is going to have to do something the counties don't agree with, but I think I'll be able to communicate why we have to do it in a less threatening way."

Some registrars also disagreed with Shelley over his insistence that electronic voting machines have a paper trail. State legislators last year passed a law requiring that safeguard despite objections from county officials. McPherson, then a Republican state senator, was a co-author of the paper trail bill.

While Clark opposed a paper trail requirement as Alameda County registrar, he said he will enforce the new law as a state official.

"I really think the debate over this has been in the Legislature. The Legislature has made this the law, and we'll obey the law," Clark said.

Clark served in the secretary of state's office from 1982 to 1987 as an elections analyst, during which time he worked with Mott-Smith. Clark insisted that registrars last year never had a problem with Mott-Smith, but rather had a "big problem" with Shelley.

Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley called Mott-Smith's removal a mistake.

"He gave 20 years of loyal service to a number of secretaries of state," Oakley said. "He was the definition of a nonpartisan, intelligent, diplomatic peacemaker. ... He literally held the local elections community together under Kevin Shelley, and I'm stunned that his reward is to be felled in this fashion."

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