Debra Bowen has acknowledged she suffers from severe depression to the point she seems incapable of performing her duties as California Secretary of State. She is currently living in a trailer park, having moved out of a house she and her husband own. She also owes money in back taxes.
Her trailer at Arden Acres has cracked windowsills, and some windows have cardboard behind the glass to block the sun. Behind it is a storage yard with a giant, rusting shipping container pressed against the other side of the fence. On Thursday, her state-issued Buick was parked outside, the back seats and front passenger seat full of cardboard boxes brimming with clothing and household goods.
Depression is not just a personal malady. If it affects job performance for an important state official, then it impacts the state at large. Processing time for business filings in California has tripled under her watch. An online voter registration system is way behind schedule. Filing to form a LLC in California can take weeks. There is no way to apply online. The only way to speed up an application is to physically bring to an office in Sacramento. Contrast this with Utah where you can apply online and receive approval within 24 hours.
In May, when I met Pete Peterson, the brainy, impressive GOP reformer who hopes to succeed Bowen in November’s election, I told him how surprised I was that Bowen was such a fiasco in statewide office. I said someone should file a missing person report for the secretary of state.
Peterson laughed, and so did I. But I wouldn’t tell such a joke now. I hope Bowen gets the help she needs — and that California finally gets the great secretary of state that it needs and deserves.
I lived in Venice CA when Bowen, a progressive environmental lawyer, ran for her first state office in the State Assembly and won. She’s a likable person. This news about her is just sad.
However, there needs to be a way to remove state office holders who clearly are not capable of functioning at the level require by their position.