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Our View: Election bingo

The Union Editorial Board

Who had the Nevada County auditor-controller race on their bingo card?

Few people likely expected this contest to be the one that dragged on long after the June 7 election.

The clerk-recorder/registrar of voters race, now that was somewhat expected. A contentious 2020 presidential election has led some people to target elections offices. Then there was the drama earlier this year involving masks in the office, and a long-term restraining order against one person who officials say pushed her way inside.



Follow that with a failed attempt to hold a recount for that race, and you’ve got the makings of a miniseries.

But, no, that’s since been resolved and it’s the auditor-controller race that continues to linger.



Essentially, the argument by Gina Will — who lost to Rob Tribble — is that Tribble hasn’t held a senior fiscal management job for three of the past five years. That’s a requirement of the position. Her argument is, without that box checked, a judge should set aside the election results and declare her the winner.

No matter your politics, that should give you pause at the bingo table.

We want qualified people in office, especially when the law spells out the necessary experience. We also want the will of the voter upheld, regardless of who won.

That sets up the current legal struggle occurring in this county.

There’s plenty wrong with how the current law is set up. You can see its problems in the formal candidate declaration period for the June 7 election.

Matt Beauchamp, who wanted to run for district attorney, wasn’t a registered voter of Nevada County, a requirement to run. Lori Steele, who sought the sheriff’s seat, didn’t have the law enforcement experience within the time frame dictated by law.

These two candidates were set aside before we ever reached an election. However, Tribble swore an oath that he met the requirements and was only seriously questioned about his job experience after he won.

We obviously need a better system of vetting candidates’ qualifications before we reach the voting booth. Otherwise, the inconsistencies in our current system will only lead to more lawsuits after an election.

Tribble spoke about his experience during the Nevada County League of Women Voters forum. In recent court filings he references non-disclosure agreements, and points to some high level jobs he’s held, and continues to hold, that appear to meet the law’s requirements.

At a court hearing last month on this issue, Tribble’s attorney said he was ready to proceed that day. Instead, we’re looking at a series of hearings that could extend for weeks, maybe months.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and Jan. 1 will be here sooner than we’d like. Someone needs to not only be declared the auditor-controller by then, but also have the weeks and months beforehand to learn county processes and get their team into place.

There’s likely no quick fix to our current situation. It’s in a judge’s hands and Gina Will’s contest will move through the system, as it should. Two hearings already have occurred, and the third is scheduled for next week.

But, hopefully, our collective muddle through this election contest will be the last time we go through something like this. This contest should make us realize that change is needed in the process to qualify for office. A neutral arbiter of someone’s qualifications should be installed, and a defined timeline of when a challenge to a candidate created. Hopefully, these measures would eliminate the existing quagmire we find ourselves in.

Because otherwise, without any changes, we’re just sitting around powerless as someone calls out a random string of numbers, hoping we hit a winner.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

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