SLO is Losing Its Elections Chief
San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong announced Friday that he has accepted the Deputy Clerk-Recorder position in Contra Costa County. Gong is departing SLO after 16 years, he says, to be closer to his aging parents. But his decision follows an onslaught of harassment and racist flamethrowing. In an interview with the San Luis Obispo Tribune, he admitted that the ugliness he’s endured “probably played a factor.”
Gong’s troubles began in March when the Republican Party requested an audit of the county’s voting system. The request was extremely broad with no operational guidelines. And it was seemingly rooted in conspiracy theories rather than good faith — part of a larger, national effort to undermine faith in US election integrity.
When he declined the request, Gong became the focus of a smear campaign. It culminated in a Board of Supervisors meeting on May 4 in which public commenters floated Dominion voting machine conspiracies and repeatedly questioned Gong’s loyalty to US democracy because he’s an Asian-American.
That was the thanks Gong got for leading the county through an unprecedented election right in the middle of a global pandemic.
“I don’t believe that people truly understand what my staff went through for that election,” Gong told the Tribune. “To conduct the type of election we did — to prepare for that type of election, counties usually spend a year and a half to prepare an election in this manner ... I know there might be some naysayers and all, but it was a huge accomplishment for this county. And really the county should be very appreciative. The staff — I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears poured into that election.”
Gong’s departure comes ahead of an expected recall targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom. The county could appoint someone to carry out the rest of Gong’s term or let the voters decide. A decision has not yet been announced.