By far the most important duty of the clerk-recorder-assessor’s office is making sure every vote is counted and that as many people as possible vote – Larry Herrera is the most qualified candidate for that job.

As the assistant clerk-recorder-assessor for the last four years, Herrera has had the skills necessary to manage one of the county’s most important offices. Herrera improved the way Santa Barbara votes by installing new voting machines, which have improved the speed and accuracy of Election Night tallies and saved the county money in overtime pay for poll workers. The March 2000 tallies were known within 76 minutes of the polls closing.

Where Herrera really shines, however, is in his commitment to increasing voter registration and turnout. Herrera introduced registration-by-phone, an online polling place locator and a bilingual voter outreach program. It is vital that Santa Barbara County have a clerk-recorder-assessor committed to increasing the number of students and minorities that register to vote, and make it to the polls.

In part, Herrera’s commitment to voter drives has caused conservatives to accuse him and his boss, current Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Ken Pettit, of politicizing the office. The truth is that certain interests benefit from a low turnout of minority and student voters. Ensuring that more people vote, however, is not politicizing the office – it’s doing the job effectively.

Conservatives have also criticized Pettit and Herrera for endorsing candidates. This is what they deserve to be called on. While no one is suggesting that either man has tampered with votes, it taints the voting process when the person in charge of it publicly backs one side. We hope that Herrera will change his mind about endorsing candidates and ballot measures should he win.

An experienced and skillful politician with the right connections, Herrera has expressed a desire to use the clerk-recorder-assessor’s office as a stepping stone to higher office. These ambitions, however, do not mean he will do a bad job. Indeed, so long as he does not spend all his time politicking, the goal of a higher office may spur Herrera’s performance in this one.

The Daily Nexus endorses Larry Herrera for county clerk-recorder-assessor.