California’s secretary of state oversees elections and serves as clerk and recordkeeper, handling the registration of voters, businesses, lobbyists, campaign donations and the state archives.
The office has become of more political importance following the last general election, when secretaries of state across the country were required to defend the legitimacy of vote counts and voter rolls.
There are seven candidates who will appear on the June 7 ballot:
- Shirley N. Weber (Incumbent, Democrat)
- Rob Bernosky (Republican)
- Rachel Hamm (Republican)
- James “JW” Paine (Republican)
- Raul Rodriguez Jr. (Republican)
- Gary N. Blenner (Green)
- Matthew D. Cinquanta (No Party Preference)
Benitolink reached out to all seven candidates with questions. As of publication time, only Rob Bernosky responded.
Rob Bernosky, 58, is the regional vice-chair of the California Republican Party. He was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and resides in Hollister. He has been a finance professional his entire career (accountant, financial analyst, controller and chief financial officer) and ran for San Benito County Supervisor in 2018 and served in the Hollister School District Board of Trustees (2016-2020).
BenitoLink: What makes you better qualified for this position than the other candidates?
Bernosky: I have been involved in the voting process for the past two decades (and in reality much longer, as a poll watcher in my hometown), and am familiar with the end-to-end process. I have held positions in local and statewide political positions where issues become known, adding to my knowledge base. I have held elected positions where special elections and redistricting has occurred and decisions had to be made. In my professional career, I have done a lot of forensic work, finding discrepancies in large amounts of data, and then resolving them, including implementing policies and procedures to prevent the discrepancies from reoccurring.
As an executive in the business world, I frequently use the business services provided by the secretary of state’s office and clearly understand what people need in order to have a robust economy where businesses can feel comfortable housing their companies here. As the secretary of state, I would continue to improve those services.
It can be difficult for residents to look up financial reports from lobbyists or elected officials. How can the state make that information more accessible?
This problem can be resolved by creating an easily accessible database of the financial reporting, much like corporate America and other government entities do as part of their normal course of business, to make information easily retrievable. If we can Google a product and instantaneously find out who sells it at what price and when it can be delivered, I am pretty sure we can get the relevant information with financial reports.
Why are you running for this office?
California is dying as a place where the middle class can succeed. Inflation is raging, especially energy and food prices, crime is widespread and increasing, schools are not giving children and their parents what they need to succeed, and we cannot move about quickly because traffic is so bad. We need to come together and restore our republic where people have confidence in their government, everybody’s voice is heard, and there is confidence that everyone is being treated fairly. I want to play a role in making that happen.
In your opinion, are the elections in California secure? If they aren’t, what changes need to be made?
I think that the elections in California are secure where I have confidence that there is not widespread fraud. However, the elections need to be conducted so that if there is just a modicum of doubt, the proof of the vote can be demonstrated easily.
As secretary of state, what would be your No. 1 priority?
To eliminate any barriers to ordinary people running for office, people knowing their vote was counted and that no one who is not supposed to vote does not, and to help people who want to know what can be done about elected officials that they believe are not acting in the interest of the people.
We need your help. Support local, nonprofit news! BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is committed to this community and providing essential, accurate information to our fellow residents. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s public service, nonprofit news.