SLO County supervisors select new county clerk recorder

October 12, 2021


After learning one of the final three candidates had dropped out of the race for San Luis Obispo County Clerk Recorder, county supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to appoint Elaina Cano, ending a contentious battle.

During her introductory speech, Cano noted the importance of transparency and the ability to lead. She worked in the SLO County Clerk Recorder’s Office for four and a half years before taking a job in the Santa Barbara clerk’s office two years ago.

“San Luis Obispo is my heart and soul,” Cano said during her interview. “I raised three boys here. This is my home.”

Out of 44 candidates, an advisory committee selected Helen Nolan and Cano — both of whom have worked in the SLO County Clerk Recorder Office — and former Yolo County Clerk Recorder Department staffer Jeffrey Barry. Before Tuesday’s meeting, Barry withdrew his application.

During her interview, interim Clerk Recorder Nolan fielded questions about issues during past elections, and her competency with the department’s computer system. In regards to the computer program, Nolan said she needed to “brush up.”

“I have honestly really competent staff,” Nolan said. “I haven’t needed to fix those problems because I have staff for the Tyler System.”

For months, both supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg had battled to have Nolan appointed. During a straw vote on Tuesday, Supervisor Debbie Arnold declined to vote, Ortiz-Legg selected Nolan followed by two votes for Cano, putting Gibson in a difficult situation.

If Gibson selected Nolan, the straw vote would have been one recusal, two for Nolan and two for Cano, which would have likely reopened the selection process, an option Gibson opposed. Gibson then voted for Cano in the straw vote.

Following the straw vote, Compton made a motion to appoint Cano to head the Clerk Recorder’s Office, which resulted in a 4-1 vote with Arnold dissenting.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold voted no because she wanted to correct an issue with County Administrator Wade Horton misdirecting an advisory committee tasked with whittling down 44 candidates to seven without a requirement to have worked in county government. Instead, Horton told the committee to select five or fewer candidates who had previously worked in a county clerk recorder’s office, resulting in the selection of Cano, Nolan and Barry.


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Wade Horton wanted to bring her on board, since she is a good soldier and will do as she is told regardless of the law. She will be a valued team member that will help Wade cover up indiscretions. So much for the sanctity of SLO politics. This is a major power shift.

Jorge Estrada

The hand picked Clerk Recorder replacement may be qualified and a nice people person but so were others. No personal offense to her is intended although this is an elected position and access to this opportunity was squelched for other applicants, almost like this is an insider’s job. Supervisor Arnold is the most dependable on the Board of Supervisors, who gives her all to following process and she should be commended for calling attention to, the wayward, wink wink, Club Staff, for their side stepping the public’s voice in this case. Personally I’ve always believed that the inner working for the Clerk Recorder Office is 1) staff driven and 2) the elected position is for the publics oversight and recognition, entirely two different responsibilities.


Lynn Compton why did you not stand with Debbie Arnold regarding this very important position? Your constituents want to know. Lynn in this up coming election for your seat you will be running against a strong democrat. We need a very Strong Conservative like Debbie Arnold… Please be that person.


We definitely don’t need Jimmy Paulding and his close relationship to the unions.


No, what we need are supervisors that think for themselves instead of mindlessly banding together in these partisan conservative and liberal blocks to oppose each other on every issue. The selection of a recorder should not be some “conservative vs liberal” wedge issue. Kudos to Compton for being an independent thinker instead of the sheep you think she should be!


The only “threat to our democracy” is allowing unelected bureaucrats to run the show. Debbie Arnold is correct.


Josef Stalin famously said it’s not the people who vote, it’s the people who count the votes. I don’t think this was an issue in SLO County, but seriously I don’t know why this is political or why Helen Nolan was disqualified, obviously a function of the unholy alliance executing this plan.


Supervisors grow a spine like Arnold did. In a “just culture” an employee like Horton that goes rogue and willfully disregards an instruction by a superior is a cancer. You can either zap the cancer with discipline or surgically remove it before it spreads. Though there was a failure in “cross monitoring” of Horton by the supervisors and possibly “peer influence” by one of the supervisors, Horton’s willful disregard of an instruction is borderline insubordination. Inaction and no discipline to Horton will be perceived by other bureaucrats as tolerated and will become “normalized deviation” once they realize there were no consequences to Horton. There are a bunch of clichés, but the one that jumps out is “What is tolerated today becomes accepted tomorrow.”


Thank you Debbie for trying. These local politicians do want they without regard to the rules or the needs of their constituents. So typical