Contra Costa County Supervisors Trim Clerk-Record Field to Six Candidates

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On Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors narrowed down a field of 22 applicants to 6 candidates who will now interview for the County Clerk-Recorder position.

The county clerk-recorder position is open after Joe Canciamilla resigned after he was being investigated by the FPPC and was ultimately hit with a $150k fine. According to the 13-page finding,  the spending was uncovered in an audit where it says Canciamilla used campaign funds for personal use, campaign reporting omissions/errors, and failure to timely file a pre-election campaign statement – in violation of the Political Reform Act.

Those moving forward include:

  • Catharine Baker – currently a lawyer at Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel after serving in the California State Assembly.
  • Kristin Connelly – President and CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council and also Executive Director of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership. She also formally served as Chief of Staff for Supervsor Karen Mitchoff for 7-months between 2013-2014.
  • Deborah Cooper – She currently is serving as the acting County Clerk-Recorder and for the past 7-years has serves as the Deputy County Clerk-Recorder
  • Mark Friedman – is the principal for East Bay consultants and previously served as the CEO at Thomas J Long Foundation for 4-years and prior to that was CEO of First 5 Alameda County for 15-years.
  • Scott Konopasek – For the past six years, he has served as the Assistant Registar of Voters for the County. Prior to that, he served more than 5-years as Director of Elections in Salt Lake City. He also served as County Register of Voters in San Bernardino County from 2002-2004.
  • Karen Mitchoff – for the past 8 years, she has served Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor in District IV . Prior to that, she spent 12-years as an Administrative Services Analysis for the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department. She was also Chief of Staff for Supervisor McPeak and Mark DeSaulnier between 1987-1998.

Supervisor Candace Andersen suggested that if two or more board members wanted to bring someone forward for an interview, that would be an easy way to bring down the list saying it would be difficult to bring all 22-applicants in for an oral interview.

Supervisor John Gioia suggested he didn’t want the board to get into a discussion of every applicant but wanted to keep comments more general on the type of candidate they would want to move forward.

“I think we should come up with a way to limiting it to four or five candidates,” said Gioia.

The Board also asked staff for information on what moving the county clerk-recorder position from an elected position to an appointed position.

Mary Ann Mason, assistant county counsel, stated the board does have authority to convert the office from elected to appointment which could create an appointed office, appointed office of clerk while keeping recorder elected or visa-versa. To do that, would require the board to put a proposition on the ballot for voters to weight in.

She further highlighted that to separate the two, an ordinance change would have to occur.  The timeline would be the appointment would fill the remainder of the term, if changed, it would not change to appointment until the next election.

Prior to going down the list and voting on applicants, the Board of Supervisors shared their thoughts on the type of applicant they were looking for.

Supervisor Federal Glover said he agreed with the process that if two or more supervisors wanted to move a candidate forward, they should move them forward.

Supervisor Diane Burgis explained that the unfortunate circumstances of why they are holding an application process with the resignation of Canciamilla did not reflect on the staff in the county clerk-recorder office.

“I want to make sure that we are differentiating the actions of one from a whole, a group of people that work tirelessly and with such enthusiasm. So I just want to make sure that’s clear,” sad Burgis who said they had a lot of qualified applicants while thanking the community who have provided their input on the process and candidates.

Burgis also highlighted the need for integrity while being pleased that many are making comments about separating the this position from an elected office to an appointment.

Burgis also wanted someone who could step in and do the job immediately.

“A lot of people brought up the word integrity and I think that is really what we are all aspiring to show,” said Burgis…. “There’s a lot of work to be done with the primary and the November General Election coming up. So someone that’s going to be there, but two thirds of the staff work in the recorders side of things and so we need to talk about that as well. I want someone that’s prepared to bring efficiencies to provide the best customer service, someone that’s forward thinking, increased trust in our elections and government, increased voter registration and participation and accessing the uses of the recorder services and is willing to explore the idea of a non-elected versus elections.

Supervisor John Gioia thanked everyone who applied and putting themselves out there while also stating the resignation of Joe Canciamilla did not reflect the good work being done by staff.

“This job really has two varied divisions, the clerk recorder and elections,” stated Gioia. “I view them very differently. Selecting someone for a clerk-recorder position has some very different criteria to me than someone who would run an elections division. I agree that we should explore the elections officer being an appointed position like others having that has having someone run for office and work in that political environment even though it’s a nonpartisan office to run elections. I think there’s sort of an inherent conflict there.”

He added for him, it was about finding someone who can manage both the budget and staff while restoring trust and integrity after the appointment was made citing perception.

Supervisor Andersen said they had extremely competent and good people who applied for the job and was thankful for the quality of candidates.

“I look in for someone who really can step in and manage this office and our elections are the core of our democracy. The integrity of the elections is critical and particularly as we have a very complex election here before us and I in in my situation, I think it’s not just managing of course the staff, but it’s also the outreach, the community. It’s the interaction. It is the customer service where all County services, we are here to serve the public” said Andersen while stating she was open to the idea of this being an appointed position in the future as opposed to an elected position.

The board then went through all 22-candidates where it took two votes on each candidate to move them forward to oral interviews.

Here is a list of the applicants along with their applications

ApplicantDistrict of ResidenceCity of ResidenceApplication
Baker, CatharineNADublin(View PDF)
Basting, KarenIIWalnut Creek(View PDF)
Burgarino, PaulIIIAntioch(View PDF)
Connelly, KristinIILafayette(View PDF)
Cooper, DeborahIIDanville(View PDF)
Dunlap, MartinVMartinez(View PDF)
Farmer, Herman, IIVBay Point(View PDF)
Friedman, MarkIEl Cerrito(View PDF)
Hernandez, RichardVMartinez(View PDF)
Hoffmeister, LauraIVConcord(View PDF)
Ibrahim, HakamIIWalnut Creek(View PDF)
Konopasek, ScottIIWalnut Creek(View PDF)
McKillop, DebraVMartinez(View PDF)
Meltzer, ElliotVMartinez(View PDF)
Mitchoff, KarenIVPleasant Hill(View PDF)
Norton, TinaIIIOakley(View PDF)
O’Brien, CourtneyVMartinez(View PDF)
Rafferty, ScottIVWalnut Creek(View PDF)
Ross, MarkVMartinez(View PDF)
Siguenza, DeidreVMartinez(View PDF)
Simonsen, ArneIIIAntioch(View PDF)
Wedel, JustinIVWalnut Creek(View PDF)

 

The Board of Supervisors has established the following next steps in the timeline to fill the position of Clerk-Recorder: 

  • Friday, December 20, 2019 – Copies of applications will be given to the Board of Supervisors and all applications that meet the minimum qualifications will be made available to the public on the County website at www.contracosta.ca.gov/7694 and in the Clerk of the Board’s Office at 651 Pine Street, 1st Floor, Room 106, Martinez, CA.
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2020 – Board of Supervisors will consider which Applicant(s) to interview
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020 – Board of Supervisors will interview selected Applicants and select Finalist(s)
  • January 21 – 31, 2020 – County Administrator will conduct background check on Finalist(s)
  • Tuesday, February 04, 2020 – Board of Supervisors will consider possible appointment of County Clerk-Recorder

The appointed County Clerk-Recorder will serve the current term of the office ending in January 2023.

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