Shaking Things Up in the Golden State
Pete Peterson is the GOP candidate for California's secretary of state. People need to realize that this is a very important office, considering that the secretary’s duties include serving as the state’s chief elections pfficer, maintaining business filings, counting the ballots of those serving overseas, and transferring to a statewide database while ensuring its integrity. American Thinker interviewed Peterson on a number of issues that affect California.
American Thinker: Why did you decide to run?
Pete Peterson: Even though I have been a Republican my whole life, I really think this office should be non-political, which is currently not the case. I feel that if elected, I would be able to apply my expertise to this office.
AT: What is your past experience that can be related to this office?
PP: It is directly related to the work I have been doing for the last eight years. I always had a passion for public policy and decided to get a Master’s Degree in public policy at Pepperdine. Upon graduating, I worked for a non-profit, Common Sense California, whose mission was to promote greater civic engagement. It was through that and my connection with The Davenport Institute for Public Engagement that I came in contact with many other state secretaries. Through that interaction, I decided to run.
AT: What do you see as your duties if elected?
PP: I pledge to make it easier and cheaper to file papers for a start-up business. Many people do not realize that the SOS must engage business through the requirement that anyone starting a business has to sign up with the SOS, and when they leave the state, they have to file the papers of dissolution. One way to cut costs is to do what many other states are doing: a way to file online, including the annual statement. We charge more than any other state for a business franchise tax license that should be reduced. Something else that I want to become a part of is to inform the legislature and the governor of the data my office has gathered after an entry-level interview and exit interview.
AT: What do you plan on doing with the results of the Election Integrity Project, where they found 60,000 voter list irregularities in LA County alone?
PP: Many people do not realize that California is the last state in the country not to have a statewide database. This means we have been outside the federal mandate for more than a decade. This opens up an opportunity for people to be registered in multiple counties. In fact, the Pew Center estimated we have one million out-of-date voter files. We have to move county by county and reach out to find the discrepancies. For example, are the E. Coopers living in LA and San Diego the same person, or are they Ernie and Elizabeth?
AT: Can you tell me what you will do specifically?
PP: CGI, the same company that created Healthcare.gov, was awarded the contract to build a statewide database by 2016. There was absolutely no competition. I will make sure that contracts are awarded in a legitimate way and will be actively involved in making sure that database information is also legitimate. I also plan on fighting the defunding of election integrity, which has been going on since 2011.
AT: Where do you stand on voter ID?
PP: I am not sure voter ID gets us to having complete voter integrity. Consider that most of the problems occur with absentee ballots or when gathering signatures for registration. Registration is important to check on proof of citizenship.
AT: Why should someone vote for you?
PP: This is my passion, and I do not intend to use it as a stepping stone. I am going to make the process very transparent. I will conduct my job in a nonpartisan way. I pledge to make sure that the numbers of irregularities found by groups like the Election Integrity Project will go down. In four years, I hope California constituents see more transparency, more civic engagement, and more citizenship integrity.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.