Applicant

Secretary of State

Applicant Robert Bernosky is asking you to hire him for the role of Secretary of State, which pays $163,917 per year. His resume:

Robert Bernosky

Chief Financial Officer

Professional Profile

Longtime California Republican Party stalwart Robert Bernosky may be a longshot to become the next Secretary of State. But as candidates were lining up to enter this race last March, he was just the guy the state GOP needed for the job. 

Before Bernosky jumped in, the conservative frontrunner in the race seemed to be Rachel Hamm, a YouTube personality whose policy platform included a refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidency and an uncompromising opposition to witchcraft. Bernosky is not that kind of candidate: He describes himself a “practical conservative” and emphasizes the “nonpartisan” nature of the position he’s seeking. Though he was a supporter of former President Donald Trump, he readily acknowledges the 2020 election was not stolen. Entering the race at the last minute, he edged Hamm aside, coming second in the June 7 primary with 19% of the vote, compared to the 59% for Democratic incumbent Shirley Weber. 

During working hours, Bernosky works as a chief financial officer for hire and touts himself as a corporate turnaround artist. But on the side he’s long been a reliable, mostly behind-the-scenes party man, both in the state GOP and in his native San Benito County, where he’s been a regular presence on the local ballot. 

Experience

Republican party executive 

2012-present

First elected as San Benito County GOP chairperson in 2012, he was chosen again for the post last year. He’s called for the party to focus on down ballot races and local concerns and not to get distracted by divisive national politics like, say, Trump.

Represented the Central Coast as regional vice chairperson to the state Republican Party between 2016 and 2020. One of his most recent initiatives: Serving on the party’s election integrity project, which calls for more citizen monitoring of ballot counting.

Served as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 2016 and 2020, and supported Trump both times.

Chief financial officer

1992-present

A self-described “special situations” corporate consultant, he has worked as the top money manager at nearly half a dozen companies in the semiconductor, medical research, clothing and candy industries.

Local board member

2016-2020

Occupied one of five seats on the Hollister School District Board of Trustees, culminating in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a trustee he pushed the district to file a lawsuit against San Benito County over a funding dispute.

Appointed to a local water board in 2016 that had been vacant and inactive for a decade.

Legislative and local candidate

2010-2018

Ran for the Assembly in 2010 and 2012, making it onto the general election ballot but losing to former Democratic Assemblymember Luis Alejo both times

Ran for a seat on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors in 2018, but failed to make it past the primary.

References

  • California Republican Party

Fun Fact

Bernosky comes from a family of educators. His wife is the principal and superintendent of a single-school school district north of Hollister, and two of his three daughters are teachers.

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“A lot of people don’t have faith in the system and that’s what I’m going to restore — just like I do for companies and just like I do for school districts.”

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Here’s a look at where Robert Bernosky stands on the most pressing issues he would face in office.

Key Topics
Where Robert Bernosky Stands on the Issues
The job
Voting
Ballot measures
Recalls
Security

The secretary of state is California’s chief elections officer, in charge of administering the state’s voting.

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What are your two top priorities in the post?

1. To do whatever is necessary for all people to have the evidence necessary for them to believe voter rolls are clean and elections are fair, including making statements on where concerns are and what is being done to address them. The Secretary of State is today mostly a large data clearinghouse, and there are many opportunities for sloppiness and nefariousness that we need to seal. I also do not want any private money in election agencies.

2. I also want to make the Secretary of State’s office to be far more customer-service oriented, with telephones answered for both business interests and election-related inquiries.

How would you work with the governor and Legislature?

I will gladly work closely with the governor and the Legislature to achieve the priorities stated above.  I will be fact-based and not ever be crying fraud without verifiable evidence, instead of innuendo and conjecture. I want to have a reputation of credibility with them and have a partnership that works.

How would you collaborate with county election officials?

I would like to encourage uniformity as much as possible in all elements of the election process.  The Secretary of State acts as a clearinghouse between other entities such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, Health and Human Services Agency, the Superior Court system, and other agencies that push information to each county, which may be duplicative of other sources counties get independently.  We need best practices put in place to all counties, and I will encourage each to adopt them.

Since the gubernatorial recall election last year, California is sending mail ballots to all registered voters. But only 33% of those registered and 27% of those eligible voted in the June primary.

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Is it important to increase voter participation? How would you do that?

I come across so many people every day that say they do not vote, mostly because they “don’t do politics.” I hope that I can do some marketing to emphasize voting is not political! Voting is choosing how your tax dollars are spent and how your schools perform, whether you can walk down the street without fear, and how much you pay for gas and food.

Do you support more outreach to non-white and underrepresented communities?

Absolutely, for the reasons stated above.

With only seven measures on the November ballot, California voters will get their say this year on the fewest propositions in a century. A couple, including one to raise the minimum wage, barely failed to qualify.

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Do you support changing the signature requirements, either raising or reducing them?

What I support is not changing the rules frequently and to suit particular agendas. We are more-or-less a direct democracy, so ballot measures are always going to be a part of our lives.  So many measures don’t make the cut, so it seems like we have an adequate threshold today, but I am open-minded on the issue.

While it didn’t qualify, there is a proposal to take the drafting of titles and summaries away from the attorney general. Do you support that change? If so, who should have that authority?

I absolutely support changing the authority from the attorney general’s office to where it is more properly based: in the Secretary of State’s office. It’s just like the DMV registering voters; what expertise and allegiance to the election process do DMV employees have? Let’s let them license drivers and register cars, and let the Secretary of State take care of registering voters.

After the failed effort to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, lawmakers and several policy groups looked at reforming the recall process, with some pointing out that a candidate who received far fewer votes than the number who opposed the recall could become governor.  

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Do you support getting rid of recalls entirely?

My personal preference is that we would not have recall elections; they are expensive and have only triggered two actual elections. But I am going to waffle a bit and say I do not object to the elected being in fear of them.

Do you support increasing the signature requirement to qualify a recall?

If we are going to continue to have recall elections, I am comfortable with where the thresholds are today.

Do you back a requirement for a more specific cause for a recall?

No, because then you are asking for subjectiveness to be metered by those in power.

Do you support allowing the incumbent to run in a recall? What about elevating the lieutenant governor if the governor is recalled?

No, doing so muddies the water.

While a bigger issue in other states, California isn’t immune to threats to election workers or to unfounded allegations of voter fraud and other election disinformation. 

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Do you support a bill to protect election workers and their privacy by keeping their addresses confidential?

I believe that any worker’s personal information should be confidential, whether for an election, any other government position, or private industry. I think the chief elections official should certify whatever needs to be certified, if there are residency requirements.

What steps would you take to combat election disinformation?

When there is doubt in any part of the election process, the Secretary of State needs to unemotionally and quickly address it with credibility.