With the 2022 General Election quickly approaching, California voters are eager to know where candidates stand on the issues that matter most.
One high-profile race is that of Secretary of State, a position tasked with safeguarding the state’s elections, business programs, information technology and beyond.
This office holder should be dedicated to ensuring government is transparent and accessible. Some of the prime responsibilities of California Secretary of State include:
— Maintaining business filings with accuracy
— Protecting the State Archives
— Implementing electronic filing of campaign and lobbyist financial information
— Serving as the state’s Chief Elections Officer
— Serving as a trustee of the California Museum
— Operating the Safe at Home confidential address program
In determining who is most fit for this role, voters need to know what top priorities the candidates are promoting. Voters also need to know how the elected official would collaborate with county election officials, the governor and the state’s legislature.
Candidates vying for the seat
Two candidates are on the Nov. 8 ticket: incumbent Democrat Shirley Weber and Republican challenger Robert Bernosky.
Shirley Weber was born into a family of Arkansas sharecroppers, who later fled to the Golden State to escape Jim Crow-era violence.
Before jumping into politics, Weber taught at the college level for nearly four decades. She retired from San Diego State University, where she served as department chair for Africana Studies. Weber then had a short stay on the local school board before becoming a California Assemblymember.
Weber then became the first African American to ever hold the role of California Secretary of State after being tapped by Gov. Gavin Newsom, following his appointment of Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate in 2021.
On the issues
According to interview questions shared by CalMatters, Weber said her top priorities for the post include running safe and fair elections, while making voting more accessible and increasing the number registered voters in California.
The Democrat added she intends to work closely with the governor and Legislature “to craft legislation to improve voting rights.” A few key areas she mentioned include voter list maintenance, ballot return processes and the state’s recall process.
When asked by CalMatters how she intends to collaborate with county election officials, Weber said keeping regular communication on elections, procedures and policies will help ensure she is doing everything to “run safe, fair, accessible elections.”
Fundraising and endorsements
Weber has raised approximately $1.5 million through direct contributions, CalMatters data shows. As of Oct. 17, there have been no reported independent expenditures.
The incumbent has received endorsements from the following statewide elected officials: Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Attorney General Rob Bonta, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Controller Betty Yee, Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Malia Cohen, the Chair of the California State Board of Equalization.
Weber also has been publicly endorsed by 27 members of the California State Legislature, eight congressional elected officials and at least three mayors within the state.
Robert Bernosky is a Californian and a longtime businessman in corporate America. He describes himself as a career Chief Financial Officer, which appears to be the case as he has led nearly half a dozen companies ranging from medical research to semiconductors and even candy.
His first stab at entering the political world occurred in 2010 and 2012 when he ran for the Assembly. He was defeated in both elections.
Shortly after, Bernosky was elected as the GOP chairperson for San Benito County. In 2021, he was chosen to fill this role another time. In this position, the Republican has called on his party to hone in on local concerns and give extra attention to down ballot races.
Other political roles include the Central Coast’s regional vice chairperson to the state GOP, which he held from 2016 to 2020. Bernosky also served as a delegate to the RNC in 2016 and 2020.
On the issues
Bernosky told CalMatters his top priorities for the post include doing whatever is necessary to ensure voters believe voter rolls are clean and elections are fair. He intends to make statements on areas of concern and explain what is being done to improve them.
The Republican added he intends to make Secretary of State’s office “more customer-service oriented” for election-related inquires and business interests.
When asked by CalMatters how he intends to collaborate with county election officials, Bernosky said he would like to “encourage uniformity as much as possible in all elements of the election process.” He explained that best practices should be put into place for all counties in the state, which he plans to widely encourage.
Fundraising and endorsements
Bernosky has raised $0 for his campaign, CalMatters data shows. As of Oct. 17, there have been no reported independent expenditures. He entered the race at last minute.
The Republican challenger has been endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
When, where and how to vote
Californians who wish to cast their vote in the 2022 Secretary of State election must be registered by Oct. 24. Hopeful voters can complete the process at by filling out a California online voter registration application.
Active registered voters can expect to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the Nov. 8 General Election.
Once received, registered voters can return their vote-by-mail ballot via mail with prepaid postage. The returned ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by Nov. 15.
Another option for voters is to drop off their vote-by-mail ballot in-person to a secure ballot drop box or their country elections office. This must be done by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Voters can find their closest drop box by using this voting information tool.
For those wishing to vote in-person, it can be done on or before Election Day. County elections offices offer early voting with some counties offering additional locations.
Polls are set to open Nov. 8 at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. Voters can find their polling location by referring to the Voter Information Guide mailed to their home address or by using this voting information tool. Voters can also text Vote to GOVOTE (468683) or call (800) 345-VOTE (8683).
In the meantime, Weber and Bernosky are set to go head-to-head this election cycle in hopes of commanding the office of California Secretary of State.