Runner-up eyed for Nevada County clerk job
NEVADA CITY Gregory Diaz, the man who ran against Kathleen Smith a year ago, could be the countys next clerk-recorder.The county board of supervisors will decide if it will appoint Diaz to the position after board members publicly interview him at a special hearing on June 19.Diaz lost to Kathleen Smith in the June 2006 primary by about 1,000 votes. In April, Smith was essentially booted out of her office after it was discovered she had been moonlighting as the city clerk for Rio Vista while continuing to hold her position as Nevada Countys clerk-recorder. Diaz was selected as the best person for the job over five other applicants by a panel made up of a representative of the Secretary of States elections office, clerk-recorders from neighboring counties, Nevada County auditor/controller and acting clerk-recorder Marcia Salter and Assistant County Executive Officer Laura Matteson. Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens said he thought Diaz is the most qualified of the applicants.He had the guts to run in the last election, he made a good showing, and he is experienced, Owens said.The panel reviewed applicants experience and knowledge of election laws. Diaz served eight years as San Francisco Countys clerk-recorder and has been a full-time resident of Nevada County since 2003, where he lives on a ranch with his wife and 14 alpacas. I have a lot of experience and, hopefully, Ill get the job and provide some much needed stability to the office, Diaz said in April during a special hearing when supervisors publicly fired Smith and cut off her salary.On Sunday, Diaz told The Union he preferred not to comment until after the board made its decision. County supervisors are looking into ways to possibly modify state law to prevent what Smith did from happening again, said County Executive Officer Rick Haffey. One possibility is to change the position from an elected one to an appointed one, Haffey said. Owens said making such a change would require a legislative exemption, and would take several years.If we had that in place for this past situation (Smith), it would have provided a safeguard, Owens said.Smith was originally appointed to the position in 2004 after then clerk-recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick resigned. Owens said that if appointed, Diaz would serve out the remainder of Smiths term, ending in 2010.Chairman John Spencer said there may not be a need to change the ordinance that governs the clerk-recorder position because most people are trustworthy. This is the first time something like this has happened that anyone can remember, said Spencer. Most people are fairly ethical and do things they are supposed to do, said Spencer. Greyson Howard contributed to this article.
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