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It's Go Time!

SFR's Picks for the Nov. 2 2010 Election

October 27, 2010, 1:00 am

Secretary of State

SFR Pick: Dianna Duran, Republican

The office: The Office of the Secretary of State has a variety of duties, including the primary responsibility for overseeing elections. The SOS is the third-highest elected official in the state.

The candidate: State Sen. Dianna Duran is a former Otero County clerk who currently has the support of a variety of Democratic clerks, including Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza. She also has carried, as a state senator, several election-related bills, including ones to clarify voting procedures and absentee voting, and to amplify the state’s voter identification requirements.

The mess: Republicans haven’t had to work too hard to make a case for Duran. That’s because the case against incumbent Democrat Mary Herrera has become so strong. In a nutshell, Herrera has been criticized by a variety of former employees, who allege patterns of political favoritism, as well as inappropriate and illegal behavior. Herrera has denied all the allegations, and countered with some of her own. She’s correct that unproven allegations are just that. On the other hand, at bare minimum, it’s clear the Secretary of State’s Office has suffered from massive leadership problems. In and of itself, the airing of disputes has created a lack of public confidence in an office that oversees elections. Of equal concern are the criticisms and lack of confidence from respected county clerks and their staffs. While Herrera has made herself available to answer these complaints and allegations, her accessibility is a new phenomenon. For the majority of Herrera’s tenure, getting information--let alone calls returned--has been a major undertaking.

Credit where it’s due: During Herrera’s term, the improvements to the office’s online campaign finance website have been significant. Under this system, candidates’ campaign filings are accessible and downloadable. This type of access and transparency should be available for all public budgets and information.

The rub: A change in leadership is clearly in order at the SOS’ Office. At the same time, we don’t support some of Sen. Duran’s positions. She opposes same-day voter registration--an idea many believe would create greater voter participation. And she is pushing for mandatory photo identification at the polls, a proposal many believe discourages voter participation. However, the secretary of state doesn’t pass laws--the Legislature does. Time will tell if Duran is correct that her ideas have bipartisan support (there’s a first time for everything).

The understatement: “I think, once and for all, we need to have a scandal-free Secretary of State’s Office.” --Dianna Duran

The bottom line: Herrera has made some improvements to the Secretary of State’s Office, and her views more closely resemble our own. But until the public adopts a zero-tolerance attitude toward scandal and unprofessional public behavior, we have only ourselves to blame when the public trust is abused.


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