There are some people who will vote for Jennifer Nutting to replace her husband on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors because they feel it rights a wrong.
Ray Nutting was removed from office earlier this summer after a politically motivated corruption trial that resulted in acquittal of felony charges and conviction of misdemeanors committed because, in the chaotic hours before he turned himself in to the authorities, he wrongly borrowed money for bail from people with business before the county.
After the trial, his fellow supervisors asked a judge to remove Nutting.
A lot of people, including many of his constituents, think Ray Nutting was wronged and that he was unjustly removed from his elected position. Having his wife serve out his term would serve some measure of cosmic justice.
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But that’s not why we are endorsing Jennifer Nutting in the special election for District 2 on Sept. 9. It is because she is the best of the three women and three men running for the position.
Believe us, we were just as surprised by this conclusion as anyone.
From the outside, her candidacy seems a joke. It’s true that political spouses often get the bug for public office after years of proximity and interest. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lois Capps, Doris Matsui and Mary Bono Mack are just a few of the women who followed their husbands into office and did fine.
But this soon after her husband had been removed? It seemed merely a ploy to get back at the people who wronged her husband: the man who filed the charges, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, and the man who turned him in for bad paperwork, county Auditor-Controller Joe Harn.
But Jennifer Nutting is no wilting lily who will be a mouthpiece for her husband. A local native, she’s a business owner and mom, active in the community and has a sharp command of the issues facing county government, probably from sitting through years of supervisor meetings. She’s well-versed in the mechanics of the county and has a reasonable stance on growth: moderate, with jobs before houses.
Many folks have told us that the next board (there are two open seats that will be filled in November) needs strong leadership to overcome the infighting among electeds that was the downfall of Ray Nutting and has roiled local leadership. There are two strong women in this race: Nutting and Claire McNeal.
But McNeal doesn’t seem likely to help heal the rifts in the county. A county government neophyte, she has a background in party politics as a member of the El Dorado County Republican Central Committee. The last thing the Board of Supervisors needs is the type of partisanship that has frozen Congress.
But more important than her lack of knowledge is her demeanor. When communicating with a representative of The Bee’s editorial board, McNeal was unnecessarily combative and uncivil. That’s not just unwise, it indicates a lack of judgment you don’t want to see in a public official.
Jennifer Nutting might ride a wave of voter revenge to victory, but in this case, she deserves it.