Nathan Pinkney Nominated by Supervisor Garman for Controversial Elections Commission

Nathan Pinkney was nominated for a seat on the Shasta County Elections Commission by District 5 Supervisor Tim Garman.

Nathan Pinkney, arguably one of Shasta County’s most left-leaning, widely recognized, outspoken community advocates, may soon have a seat upon one of the most sketchy, toothless conservative boards; the Shasta County Elections Commission.

For some perspective, Garman’s recommendation that Pinkney serve on the current Shasta County Elections Commission would be akin to recommending that Barack Obama work on the Trump 2024 campaign.

The Shasta County Elections Commission was the brainchild of District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones, created to allow the ultra-conservative board majority yet more control over Shasta County elections, such as advocating for hand-counted ballots only.

Garman made his unexpected declaration in the final five minutes of his guest appearance Tuesday night on the popular new Shasta Unmasked radio show.

Sidebar: What about Garman’s vote to fire Dr. Karen Ramstrom?

Prior to giving Garman the floor for his special announcement, the Shasta Unmasked women asked him some tough questions, such as why he voted to fire former Shasta County health officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom.

There’s no telling whether Garman expected this question, but his reply was not his finest moment, as he appeared to borrow a flip-floppy page from District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye’s book. Rather than directly answering the question,  Garman said he wished he’d spent more time talking with Ramstrom — not that it would have necessarily changed his vote. Garman said that for him, his greatest concern during the time of COVID was about the children’s emotional struggles. First, he apologized to Ramstrom for not giving her more time to meet and talk about his concerns.

“The issues I had perhaps we could have worked out,” Garman said. “But I was new at the time, and I just acted without doing my due diligence. I’m not saying I would have voted differently at the end of the day, but I think I would have given her the chance, there’s a good possibility that I would have, because I’m openminded.”

He said his main issues with COVID and the county related to schools and kids.

“I’ll tell you, what happened with the kids in the schools — you know because you’re an English teacher — it set the kids back years.”

He talked about his daughter teaching Spanish speaking students, and how she told him a story that had him in tears.

“That was my big fear with COVID, was what it was doing to the kids,” Garman said. “I saw it. I saw it live. I saw it happening on the school board and I couldn’t stop it.”

Garman mentioned no correlation between his COVID fears, schools and kids related to Ramstrom’s firing.

Ironically, Garman nearly died from COVID.

As often reported on ANC, the fact is that Dr. Karen Ramstrom had no authorization over Shasta County schools and their response to state pandemic mandates. If anything, Ramstrom was about as lenient as an ethical physician could possibly be while still obeying her oath of office to follow the law and keep citizens safe.

Yes, Garman is to be commended for siding with Supervisor Rickert with some rational votes to benefit Shasta County and all its citizens. It’s also noteworthy that State of Jefferson devotee Terry Rapoza publicly blasted Garman for being one of the biggest political “disappointments”. Many far-right folks had contributed to Garman’s campaign, and they expected his votes to reflect their investments.

However, unless Garman truly stands by the vote to fire Ramstrom, and doesn’t wish to admit it, that question and his response was a missed opportunity for Garman own up to a dire mistake that ended Ramstrom’s career, all for doing her job.

Back to Pinkney

Ramstrom’s firing aside, Garman’s news that he would nominate Pinkney to serve on the Elections Commission was about as liberal-minded a decision as he could ever make, except perhaps, wearing a Recall Kevin Crye T-shirt to a board meeting.

Shasta County District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman takes a noon break from budget hearings on June 7, 2023, while wearing a T-shirt supporting the recall of fellow supervisor Kevin Crye. Garman incited the fury of some fellow county Republicans for wearing the shirt. Copyrighted photo by Mike Chapman for A News Cafe

Hearing Garman’s news about Pinkney, the program hosts erupted into laughter.

“Yeah, I love it!” said one of the hosts.

“The thing about Nathan is he is extremely passionate,” said co-host Jessica French, adding her belief that Pinkney would take his appointment seriously.

Garman prefaced his statement by saying that he was a non-supporter of the Elections Commission, an entity he believes is a waste of taxpayer money. He said he wished the commission would “go away”. Garman explained that he and Pinkney have been in conversations about the potential appointment, and he’s confident Pinkney will take the position seriously.

Garman said he expects some backlash, because he’s a conservative Republican, and Pinkney is extremely not.

Shasta County Elections Commission: Mostly out of commission

The original Shasta County Election Commission, from left, Susanne Baremore, Dawn Duckett, Lisa Mishaud, commission chair Ronnean Lund, and Bev Gray.

The controversial commission has limped along for months, due to an exodus of members, starting with Garman’s previous choice, Dawn Duckett, a self-described fiscal conservative, who resigned from the commission, as did Supervisor Mary Rickert’s appointee Susanne Baremore. Bev Gray,  Jones’ pick, stepped down after her messy public involvement with Jones in a nefarious radio ad related to collecting problem election ballots from the public. Lisa Mishaud, whose husband Ken Michaud applied for the job as county ROV, abandoned the board, too. Ultimately, that left just one commissioner, Ronnean Lund, who was later joined by Margaret Hansen, the new commission chair. Patti Plumb recently replaced Gray, for a current total of three commissioners.

The prevailing consensus among moderate folks was that supervisors Garman and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert would not appoint any further commissioners.

That changed Tuesday with Garman’s declaration of support for Pinkney on the commission.

The big question: Will the board approve Pinkney’s appointment?

Garman anticipated that the board majority might not support  his appointment of Pinkney to the Elections Commission, and made it a point to address the topic during a few board discussions pertaining to board member appointees. Garman specifically addressed Chair Crye on the matter during board meetings, and was able to solicit Crye’s unambiguous, vows to accept Garman’s future nominees, all of which was live-streamed, on the record, just in case Crye changed his mind later.

With Crye trapped by his own promises, it’s expected that Pinkney’s nomination will pass with 3-2 board majority approval. Rickert, no fan of the Elections Commission, would likely vote for Pinkney’s appointment. Of course, so would Garman. Crye — albeit perhaps reluctantly — would also vote yes.

Unless Crye goes back on his word — which he’s wont to do at times — Pinkney will be the newest Shasta County Elections commissioner.

Here’s what Pinkney had to say about being Garman’s appointee:

“I am honored to be chosen by Supervisor Tim Garman as his appointee to the Elections Commission. First and foremost, I do not believe that the Commission should even exist, as I believe that it is a waste of taxpayer time and money. If it has to exist however, the 68% of this county who actually believes in the integrity of our local elections deserve to also be represented.

Currently, the three existing members are nothing more than an echo chamber representing the small but loud minority of local election deniers. I plan to debate these topics in front of the public on behalf of those who are not yet represented on that panel.

My very first act, if Kevin Crye keeps his word to Tim Garman, will be to make a motion to bring back the discussion of disbanding the commission at the next meeting. I will take this position seriously and make myself available to the public, even those who I disagree with. I’m certain that if appointed, many will show up to use their 3 minutes to do nothing more than attack me, I have been training for this for years and I can handle it.

I have a strong and very positive relationship with the current elections staff and I believe I will be able to provide the Board of Supervisors with the transparency of what they are doing in that office. I understand that I am known for many things, and that I am likely seen as a jokester more than a government official. I will not argue with speakers, I will not interrupt their expression of their First Amendment no matter how negative, and I will perform the duties assigned to me to the best of my abilities.”


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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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