The office of California Secretary of State oversees state elections, keeps the state’s key documents and the state archives, and implements electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information. Current Secretary of State, Democrat Debra Bowen, is term limited and thus no incumbent is running.

Competing for the office are longtime state officeholder, Democrat Alex Padilla, and political novice, Republican Pete Peterson. Peterson, in his campaign statements, said he views the office of SOS as non-partisan and his background seems to verify that posture. Peterson was first executive director of Common Sense California, a bipartisan non-profit dedicated to improving civic participation throughout the state.

In 2010, Common Sense California joined with the Davenport Institute of the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. As current executive director of the Davenport Institute, Peterson is recognized as a trainer, speaker and advisor on topics relating to increasing public participation in government decision making and explaining how technology can and is changing the citizen/government relationship.

Peterson received his bachelor’s degree in history from George Washington University and his master’s in public policy from Pepperdine. He currently serves on the advisory committees to the League of California Cities, the California Civic Innovation Project and the University Network. He is endorsed by most of the state’s major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and the San Diego Union Tribune.

Alex Padilla, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and is a California state senator, first elected in 2006. Prior to that, Padilla served on the Los Angeles City Council representing the 7th District from 1999 until 2006. He was elected council president in July 2001 and remained president through the end of 2005.

He is endorsed by the state’s Democratic leadership, the Sacramento Bee and most of the state unions, including firefighters and police officers. He states in his election papers that he is experienced in governance and in reaching across party lines to craft meaningful legislation.

Padilla said he will expedite new business online filings to ensure their prompt commencement of business operations. He said he also will work to modernize voting procedures in the state.

Peterson said he will “lead the fight to make California’s government more transparent, less corrupt and more accountable to voters and small businesses … I will bring my background in civic engagement and private sector experience to Sacramento to increase informed participation while protecting the integrity of the ballot box,” he stated.