Self-appointed Headhunter Supervisor Crye Invites Worst Person in America to Apply for ROV Job

Dist. 1 Supervisor/Chair Kevin Crye

Who died and made Shasta County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye king?

Renowned for a pants-on-fire personality disorder, low moral fortitude, and what must be a record for the shortest stint in office before being targeted for recall, King Crye is at it again.

It’s not enough power for Crye that he’s the board chair where he rules over meetings like a dictator, where he recently told a citizen that if the man didn’t like Crye’s rules about the public comment period, then that man could run for office and be supervisor and rule over meetings how he wished.

It’s not enough power for Crye that he has his own biweekly Sunday radio show where he discusses board business. It’s not enough power for Crye that he videotapes and broadcasts his recaps and opinions after every board meeting. It’s not enough power for Crye that he hosts Friday-morning Coffee With Kevin sessions where he holds court about Shasta County government. And believe it or not, all that power and public accessibility still isn’t enough, because he recently announced that he has yet another upcoming Kevin Crye show in the works.

All Kevin Crye, all the time.

Now, King Crye fancies himself a self-appointed headhunter, something he’s done before, such as in his disastrous endorsement of Chriss Street, the rejected CEO candidate. As an aside, care to bet whether Crye will eventually place Street in some high-level county position? Anyone?

More recently, Crye sent his control-freak tentacles out in a national search for Shasta County’s next Registrar of Voters/County Clerk.

Never mind that Shasta County already has the ideal candidate, Joanna Francescut — the current assistant ROV — who’s been at the helm of the county’s elections department since the former ROV, Cathy Darling Allen, took a medical leave of absence, and then retired last month.

For weeks, smart, informed, concerned citizens have beseeched the board to use common sense and hire Francescut, someone who doesn’t just know the job inside and out, but she’s dedicated to election integrity, her staff and the public.

Joanna Francescut, Assistant Registrar of Voters/County Clerk.

No, in King Crye’s kingdom, rather than endorse the heir apparent — Francescut — Crye publicly dropped a stunning name during two Coffee With Kevin sessions as a possible ROV candidate: Michael Gableman.

Aside from the thought of having MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell apply as Shasta County’s ROV, Gableman is perhaps the next-worst possible candidate imaginable.

Lindell and Gableman are pals and fellow election-deniers.

Gableman is a former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice, backed by former President Donald Trump. Gableman wasted more than $1 million of taxpayer money on his failed quest to prove the 2020 election was a fraud, and attempt to decertify Wisconsin’s 2020 election.

Crye disclosed during at least two Coffee with Kevin sessions Gableman’s name as a possible ROV candidate. However, according to one person who attended Coffee with Kevin, even though Crye invited Gableman to apply for the ROV position, it didn’t necessarily mean Crye was endorsing Gableman, per se.

That’s a recurring slippery Crye tact; to hedge his bets and avoid taking a definitive stand, he’ll talk out of both sides of his mouth. It’s reminiscent of when Crye recently spoke in favor of supervisors getting a whopping raise, but then voted against supervisor raises. (Hey, Crye didn’t need the money, so, why vote for it?)

Likewise, in a not-the-briar-patch manipulative move, Crye has claimed there’s no way to get a jail built unless the public votes for a special tax. Even so, Crye said he won’t be voting for it. However, Crye said that if we don’t support a special jail tax, then the best thing citizens can do is buy plenty of guns to defend ourselves against the criminals who will surely run rampant over Shasta County. But sure, suit yourself. Don’t vote for the special jail tax, unless you want to be safe with a new jail. Your choice. But Crye won’t back it.

See how it works? Welcome to cray-cray Cryeland.

Back to Gableman, who’s so, so, SO far right that the far-right person — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos — who first hired Gableman, eventually fired him. Now, Gableman’s trying to destroy Vos in retaliation. Gableman was accused of committing ethics violations, among other things. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vos fired Michael Gableman more than a year after he first hired Gableman to investigate the 2020 election.

According a Coffee with Kevin audience member, Crye said he’d invited Gableman to apply, but could not convince Gableman to accept the invitation. The Coffee with Kevin attendee said Crye mentioned Gableman over the course of two different weeks, and that Crye described Gableman as someone looking into “certain cases”.

Most likely those “certain cases” involved elections.

District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye hosts Coffee with Kevin sessions Friday mornings at the Kaleidoscope coffee shop on Athens Avenue in Redding. Photo by Doni Chamberlain

“The first time he didn’t mention asking Gableman to apply, but rather acted as though he had already applied,” the Coffee with Kevin constituent recalled. “Then last week Crye said that he had invited the former justice to apply, but Gableman declined.”

If Gableman truly declined to apply, then that’s supremely great news, and Shasta County just dodged a major bullet.

Even so, Crye’s interest in Gableman illustrates the kind of applicant Crye would like to see apply for the ROV job. But given that Crye said that Gableman had declined Crye’s invitation, why would Crye mention Gableman in the first place? Did Crye float Gableman’s name because Francescut happened to be in attendance at a recent Coffee with Kevin gathering, and Crye wanted to rattle her, and cast doubt about whether Crye would choose her as the permanent ROV?

In the land of King Crye, anything is possible. What’s known is that Lindell is the common denominator between Crye and Gableman. Also known is the fact that Crye used county money to fly out to meet with Lindell.

More pillow talk: Mike Lindell and Kevin Crye.

And when Crye returned, he was evasive and never disclosed the names of those he met with — other than Lindell.

Did Gableman and Crye meet during that Lindell trip? How long have Gableman and Crye been in contact with one another? How close are they?

Either way, it appears Crye knows Gableman well enough to invite him to apply for the ROV job. They also had in common the fact that their faces were on last year’s Lindell Election Summit poster, where Gableman and Crye’s photos are only separated by election-denier Jeffrey O’Donnell, aka The Lone Raccoon. When Crye was asked last year about his face on the Lindell Election Summit poster, Crye said that his photo was placed on the poster without his permission, and he did not attend the summit.

Francescut: It’s personal

Monday afternoon, A News Cafe asked Francescut for her reaction to hearing first-hand at the Coffee with Kevin session that Crye had invited Gableman to apply for the job she believes she’s best suited.

Francescut is aware that she has a challenge ahead of her with regard to convincing the supervisors to hire her. She’s hoping for the best, but she knows that if the board selects a new ROV, that person can walk in the door and immediately dismiss her. Or, they could require Francescut train them, and then fire her. Worse yet, she knows that a new ROV can expect her and the elections staff to not follow the integrity of the election process, or the integrity of the administration.

She tries not to dwell on those possibilities, just as she preferred to not discuss Gableman, or ROV applicants who do want her job.

Francescut: “I’m focusing on helping the supervisors understand that I am the most qualified for this job, in this county, and nationwide.”

Chamberlain: “What kinds of things are you addressing?”

Francescut: “I started out 16 years ago, digging in the trenches and learning the processes. A big part of the passion that I have for this work was because I started with the stepping stones. So, when you’re looking at an election  administrator, it’s a very technical skill, so you want people who have implemented a voting system, or completed redistricting. Last year alone we implemented four major projects within four-and-a-half to five months. And we implemented these projects at the direction of the board.”

Chamberlain: “Is it difficult to not take it personally when you know some of the supervisors might reject you?”

Francescut: “It is hard not to take it personally, but I try to watch for the good in people, and have empathy. The hardest part is that I don’t like to advocate for myself. Before Cathy had to walk away, you didn’t know my name. I was literally behind the scenes, doing as much as I could so that she could be the voice of this office. I love to work. I don’t seek the spotlight. I mean, I’m shy and introverted, which some people may misinterpret.”

Chamberlain: “Anything else you’d like the supervisors in particular to know about you as they’re making this decision about hiring the next ROV?”

Francescut: “I’m a workhorse. I love to work, and I love to work hard. I have worked really hard for this community for a really long time, but up until recently, I’ve been in the background where nobody could see me. Now, I have to advocate for myself.”

The ROV application process

Shasta County is now accepting applications for the position of County Clerk/Registrar of Voters until Friday, June 7, 2024.

Because the board majority recently dumbed down the requirements of the ROV position, just about anyone with a pulse could apply for the job. A recruitment video spells out the kinds of election-denier patriots who should apply for the ROV position.

Much in the same way that the board majority reduced requirements for the health officer position so they could  select an inferior candidate, and much as the board majority bypassed a trained epidemiologist for a grow-store owner milita member who believes the Japanese are weaponizing mosquitoes with tiny syringes, this current board majority seems hell bent on placing the least-qualified people in the most critical positions.

Perhaps the board will buck that trend when it comes to selecting an ROV, and they’ll choose the obvious best choice: Joanna Francescut.

After all, the November election is about 150 days away, and trouble is already brewing on the horizon with threats of political unrest.

The board majority has a choice: Choose Francescut, an experienced, ethical, knowledgeable public servant who’s been the acting ROV, or choose an unknown, inexperienced person who’s clueless about how to run an elections office, and who may not adhere to the rule of law.

Baugh backing

It’s worth mentioning that even former District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh has publicly stated on social media his support of Francescut as the next ROV. “This is a no-brainer,” concluded Baugh on Facebook. “We’re supporting Joanna Francescut for SC Clerk/ROV. Qualified. 15 years. Respected. Les and Susie Baugh.”

Joanna Francescut – Clerk/ROV
While this endorsement is completely unsolicited, it does come with 16 years experience serving on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors (Les), and 12 years serving on the Anderson City Council (Susie), as well as good intentions on our part. We mean absolutely no disrespect to the current BOS. If we had a vote, though, this would be a no-brainer. Choosing Joanna Francescut allows continuation of professional services to the voters of Shasta County. Yes, we would all like to push back against the State of California, but frankly, they don’t care about us. Any potential candidate that says they can hold the line against the state is just spouting nonsense. We humbly ask our Board of Supervisors to appoint Joanna as our County Clerk/ROV. Please take advantage of this opportunity to not only help heal the department, but to encourage all of our Shasta County employees by appointing a well qualified candidate from within.
Les & Susie BAUGH

Baugh’s public support of Francescut is significant for a few reasons. First, Baugh, who’s been fairly quiet since he chose to not seek re-election in the 2022 election, was previously part of the ultra-conservative predecessor board that set Shasta County on its current road to extremism, kicked off by the pandemic. Baugh was instrumental in the unwarranted banishment of former health officer Karen Ramstrom, the lie-based recall of Leonard Moty, participated in the pressure for CEO Matt Pontes to jump ship in the face of Jones’ blackmail, breached board chambers that were closed because of COVID spikes, and rejected the Pride Month resolution, even against the public wishes of his own daughter who spoke in favor of the resolution, and openly criticized her “hypocritical” father in the process. (Baugh was MIA for that meeting.)

So Baugh is not exactly a liberal snowflake.

Former Dist. 5 Supervisor Les Baugh.

Second, although Baugh initially endorsed Baron Browning for his retiring District 5 seat, Baugh flipped in the 11th hour and threw his support behind Kelstrom, who won District 5, and began service in January of 2023. His term ends in December of 2026.

District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom.

This puts Kelstrom in a pickle. Will Kelstrom reward Baugh’s support by following in Baugh’s footsteps to support Francescut? Or will Kelstrom do has he often does, and side with Supervisor Jones, his friend since childhood, and reject Francescut?

We will soon find out.

This important ROV vote could go either way, and could make or break the health of Shasta County’s election process, so vital in this volatile presidential election year.

It’s expected that District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert will vote for Francescut, as will District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman.

It’s also predicted that District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones will select one of the local election-denier extremist applicants, someone along the lines of Laura Hobbs, the failed District 2 election-denier candidate for District 2, or Bob Holsinger, who lost his attempt to win Darling-Allen’s ROV seat. .

That leaves the weight of the decision in the hands of District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom and Crye, a pair of wild cards that contains at least one joker.


If you appreciate journalist Doni Chamberlain’s reporting, and if you are not a subscriber, PLEASE consider a contribution. Thank you!

Editor’s note: This story was revised with new information at 8 a.m. on June 4, 2024.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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