There are four candidates listed by the Denver Clerk and Recorder's office election division as running in Denver's all mail in ballot municipal election in which ballots go out in the mail today and are due back on May 3, 2011. They are: Tom Downey, Sarah McCarthy, Jacob Werther, and Debra Johnson.
I won't be voting for Tom Downey or Jacob Werther for Clerk and Recorder. Why?
Tom Downey is in running on the strength of his ties to Scott Gessler, our current Republican Colorado Secretary of State, who has repeated made negative headlines in his brief tenure of office, and also made headlines during the campaign for his less than stellar work as an election lawyer, as well as his endorsements from other Republicans. Gessler has been a stern advocate for gutting campaign finance laws, disenfranchising voters without a solid factual basis, holding onto excess departmental funds that the rest of the state's budget needs, and not working full time at the job he was elected to carry out. While Mr. Downey was hired by Bernie Buescher and merely retained by his new boss, Scott Gessler (he runs the Business Division), he does not have the political good sense that his position requires. If he doesn't know that Gessler's endorsement is toxic, he deserves to pay for that mistake by losing my vote.
I had already ruled out Jacob Werther on the basis of the criticism that Dan Willis, a reliable straight shooter in this area with personal knowledge of the candidates. He has identified Werther as a man who comes across as an unbalanced conspiracy theorist, or at the very least, as someone who jumps to suspicions of wrong doing without having facts to back up his suspicions.
This leaves two candidates still in the running for me: Debra Johnson and Sarah McCarthy.
Johnson is the appointed city clerk of Aurora whose only drawback seems to be a complaint filed against her by the Downey campaign related to campaign finance filings that seems to be related to technical problems with Denver's e-filing system Her experience, character and lack of eagerness to associate herself with people who exemplify everything that is wrong in election administration in Colorado recommend her over either of the two men in the race. The fact that she is supported by Pam Bennett, whom I know from working with her in the Democratic Party of Denver to be a level headed and sensible person also speaks well to her suitability for the office.
I don't yet know much about Sarah McCarthy's qualification for this office, other than what can be found on her campaign webpage, which deserves kudos for being bilingual. She has IT expertise, has been active in civic affairs, and has a background of involvement with the eminently respectable League of Women Voters. She currently leads a small non-profit organization and has a long history of responsible public sector and non-profit experience.
Of the two, Johnson has the more directly relevant government experience and the stronger campaign, so, at least in the first round, I will be voting for her. I believe that voting for Johnson is the best way to increase the likelihood that neither Downey nor Werther get the job. If both Johnson and McCarthy both make it into the final round, I can look more closely at the two to evaluate each of them on the merits, as I believe that either could probably do the job competently. But, for now, the most important priority is to prevent a runoff between Downey and Werther, and I believe that Johnson is more likely to succeed in doing this than McCarthy.