The appointment will continue until 2023 when Tommy Gong’s position would have been up for election

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The County Board of Supervisors held a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to publicly interview the candidates for the County Clerk-Recorder position in an open and transparent process. The position, while typically an elected position, was being set by appointment after the resignation of Tommy Gong earlier this year.

The review committee selected three candidates for the position out of more than forty applicants, but with the last-minute withdrawal of one candidate, there were two applicants present for the interview process; Helen Nolan and Elaina Cano.

Helen Nolan is currently serving as the acting County Clerk-Recorder in San Luis Obispo. She stated her intent to continue in the office with a non-partisan outlook. “I believe in everyone’s right to have their voice heard and their vote counted with fairness and accuracy, and our voters deserve to be assured that the person counting their votes is doing so with transparency and integrity.”


Elaina Cano is currently working in Santa Barbara County as the Elections Manager and has also had experience working in the San Luis Obispo County offices. Cano expressed her view of the values of the position as “willingness to provide excellent customer service to both internal and external customers. Being very visible and willing to meet with the public.” Cano stated that trust with the public was a critical part of the position, as well as transparency, understanding, and knowledge.

Both candidates made an opening statement followed by an interview with the supervisors and ending with their closing statement. The candidates willingly sat outside the room during the opposing interview so that the Board could conduct the interviews fairly, without one candidate having the advantage of hearing the questions and the first candidate’s answers.

Following the interviews, the Board deliberated and took a straw vote to express their interest in the chosen candidate. The vote began with Supervisor Debbie Arnold, who chose not to participate. Each supervisor expressed their appreciation for both candidates and their gratitude that either one would be a great fit for the position.

The straw vote was 3-1 for Elaina Cano to take the position, and as Supervisor Bruce Gibson stated if for no other reason than that they are both great candidates, but that choosing Cano would mean that San Luis Obispo County would have both of them working in the office which is good for the county.

Supervisor Arnold then made her comments regarding her reason to withhold her vote, being that she still believes the process directed by the supervisors was not followed to bring seven candidates forward and that she would suggest that each member of the Board choose a candidate to add to the two that were interviewed. Chairperson Lynn Compton, while she agrees with what Supervisor Arnold said, felt it was in the best interest of the public and their trust and concern over the processes that the process not be dragged out further.

The motion to approve Elaina Cano for the position was approved 4-1, and the start date will be determined.

The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m., and the meeting agenda will be made available on the Board’s website.