End the SLO County Clerk-Recorder Chaos

Aaron Ochs
5 min readOct 7, 2021
San Luis Obispo attorney (and not SLO County Clerk-Recorder) Stew Jenkins

On October 5, I was in downtown San Luis Obispo and a few short steps away from the SLO County Board of Supervisors building where their meeting was held to discuss the clerk-recorder selection process. I had in my possession a small piece of paper with a scribble of comments I wanted to make at the BOS meeting.

As tempting as it was to discuss my personal experiences with one of the clerk-recorder applicants, San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins, I intended to talk about the public process and how public trust in that process has eroded. Specifically, I wanted to address the unnecessary partisanship and contentiousness over the clerk-recorder selection process.

On a 3–2 vote, the conservative BOS majority had decided a week prior to insist the final selection of candidates for that job should include candidates with no clerk-recorder experience. The selection committee the BOS initially backed narrowed down the finalists to three candidates with each candidate having relevant clerk-recorder experience. But District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold wanted to interview more candidates. District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton and District 1 Supervisor John Peschong agreed. They voted to essentially reject their own committee’s recommended finalists and open the floor, once again, to people who didn’t have clerk-recorder experience.

Naturally, their discussion and vote helped pave the way for Jenkins to come on board. Jenkins has attended BOS meetings, lobbied the supervisors publicly and privately, and solicited his friends and colleagues to pen letters of recommendation. Out of all the applicants, Jenkins is by far the most vocal in his campaigning for the interim clerk-recorder position. Given the clerk-recorder’s office is a nonpartisan and overly logistical endeavor, people don’t often see candidates for the position act so aggressively and deceptively — almost as if they feel entitled to the position. It’s seems bizarre in the abstract. But given his personal and professional connections to Compton and Charles Bell, Compton’s former attorney and District 4 representative on the clerk-recorder selection committee, Jenkins’ aggressive pursuit for the position makes sense.

But at their Oct. 5 meeting, Compton actually sided with the liberal supervisors in keeping the selected finalist count…

Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.