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Elaina Cano appointed to fill Tommy Gong's vacancy as SLO County Clerk-Recorder

Elaina Cano 10-12-21
Screen shot from SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting video
The selection process for new San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano took place Tuesday during a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

San Luis Obispo County has a new clerk-recorder to fill the seat vacated by Tommy Gong in July.

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors chose Elaina Cano, Santa Barbara County Chief Deputy Clerk-Recorder, to take over the position.

“As your county clerk-recorder, I will make it one of my goals to change as many misconceptions that the public has about this office as I possibly can," Cano said.

Out of the original pool of 44 people to apply for the SLO County Clerk-Recorder position, the board’s screening committee returned three finalists. One of the finalists, former Yolo County Chief Deputy Clerk-Recorder Jeffrey Barry, withdrew his application ahead of Tuesday's Board of Supervisors interviews, leaving two candidates for the board to choose from.

Between Helen Nolan, San Luis Obispo County’s Acting Clerk-Recorder, and Elaina Cano, Santa Barbara County’s current Deputy Clerk-Recorder, the board decided on awarding the position to Cano.

After interviewing the two candidates separately, the board of supervisors called it “a difficult decision since both applicants are highly qualified."

Supervisors Lynn Compton, John Peschong, and Bruce Gibson voted for Cano, with Dawn Ortiz-Legg voting for Nolan.

Gibson said he selected Cano because it would benefit the entire elections office.

“With Miss Cano, we end up with two extraordinary people working in our clerks office," Gibson said. "On that basis, by the narrowest of margins, I would support miss Cano for this position.”

Supervisor Debbie Arnold did not cast a vote, expressing once again her frustration about the limited pool of candidates and disappointment that her motion to add more candidates to the mix was denied.

“How can the public’s voice be heard if their elected representatives are ignored?" Arnold said. "This is a pretty big deal to me.”

With the motion to move forward with Cano's appointment, Cano will now take over the clerk-recorder position for the next fourteen months — the time left on Tommy Gong's appointment.

Cano expressed interest that she would run for the position to head the office during the 2022 Election.

Corrected: October 12, 2021 at 4:04 PM PDT
The original version of this story said that the board narrowed down the pool of 44 candidates; in fact, it was the screening committee that did that. Jerry Barry then withdrew his application, leaving only two candidates for the board to consider.
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