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Tom Durkin: Credentials, experience override dirty smears

By Tom Durkin | Columnist

“We all acknowledge the importance of surrounding oneself with like-minded people in these turbulent times.” — anonymous, Covid Times, March-April 2022

Hell, no, I don’t acknowledge that at all. We have turbulent times precisely because we’ve surrounded ourselves with like-minded people.

Public disservices such as the Covid Times and a recent hit piece on clerk-recorder candidate Natalie Adona are the result of too much inbred, like-minded thinking.

The motto of Covid Times is “Bringing Truth to Northern California.” The only truth I want out of this anti-science propaganda rag is who is publishing it and who is paying for it, because I don’t like their minds.

As for the “Anybody but Adona” mailer, an organization hypocritically calling itself Americans for Good Government is shamelessly and shamefully attacking Nevada County Assistant Clerk-Recorder/Registrar Natalie Adona in a mailer that is nothing but a mean-spirited, xenophobic character assassination.

According to a May 24 report in The Union, the perpetrators of this disgraceful exercise in dirty politics are local attorney Barry Pruett, self-employed consultant John Young, and self-employed researcher Susan Walsh, each of whom gave at least $2,000 to Americans for Good Government. Each of whom should be ashamed of themselves.


Adona told me the mailer is full of lies and distortions. She is particularly upset that the mailer claims she hates Nevada County and thinks the voters are “idiots.” Quite the opposite, she is repeatedly on record as saying how much she loves Nevada County and hopes she can win the election so she can stay here.

The mailer calls her a “carpetbagger” and a “Washington, D.C., outsider.’

A carpetbagger is essentially an uninvited interloper who comes into an area for the express purpose of exploiting the local population. Nevada County Clerk-Recorder Greg Diaz recruited Adona to be the assistant clerk-recorder based on her outstanding credentials and accomplishments. She is here by invitation, and Diaz has endorsed her to replace him.

Adona is a California native, born in Vacaville. She is a UC Berkeley graduate. She got “hooked on elections” in 2008 while training poll workers in San Francisco and Alameda counties.

The facts that she worked for the prestigious Democracy Fund and attended American University in Washington, D.C., do not make her an outsider. They make her a highly accomplished and qualified individual who has brought what she learned in our nation’s capital back home to California.


Based on an April 19 interview, subsequent conversations with her and her supporters as well as a background check, this is what I know to be true about Adona.

Besides her bacheleor’s in political science from Berkeley, she has a juris doctor law degree and an master’s in public administration, both from American University.

She moved to Washington to work for the Democracy Fund as a senior research and learning associate for elections. The fund is a philanthropic foundation dedicated to supporting voting rights and election integrity.

Adona is a nationally recognized expert on elections. She has been interviewed by The Washington Post, PBS News Hour and National Public radio. She has been cited by the Brennan Center for Justice and Politico for her lived experience and knowledge of the intimidation of election officials.

She was the lead author on two white papers for the Democracy Fund, “Understanding the Voter Experience” and “Stewards of Democracy.”

Furthermore, just this year, she won a national award for Public Service for Improved Elections from the nonpartisan Election Verification Network, and she was invited to speak on election integrity at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

Wait, there’s still more: She is:

Co-chair of the California Ballot Design Advisory Committee.

Chair of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials.

Member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Task Force.

Advisory member the Election Officials Legal Defense Network.

I could go on, but I’m running out of room.

Essentially, Adona offers 14 years of education, training, experience and professional networking that fully qualify her for the job of Nevada County clerk-recorder/registrar of voters.

Both of her opponents, Jason Tedder and Paul Gilbert, have no elections experience or qualifications. To his credit, Tedder has disavowed any association or support for the hit piece.

Both men say they can learn how to do the job on the job, because as one of them put it, “It’s not rocket science.” I don’t find that a persuasive reason to vote for either of them.

I’m voting for Natalie Adona, and I suggest you do, too.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He may be contacted at tjdurkin3@gmail.com.


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