Gail Pellerin served as the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County from 1993 until her retirement in December 2020. As County Clerk, Gail managed all elections conducted in the county and served as the Commissioner of Civil Marriage. Gail has 35 years of experience in public service – 8 years working for the State Legislature in Sacramento and 27 years working for the people of Santa Cruz County. In June 2018, Gail was elected to her 4th term as County Clerk. Gail served as President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials from 2010 to 2012 and served as co-chair of the Secretary of State’s Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Major accomplishments while serving as County Clerk include: authoring several election guidebooks to assist voters in navigating through various election procedures including initiatives, recalls, and referendums; implementing innovative voter outreach programs targeting high school students, college students, people living in residential care facilities, voters with disabilities, voters who speak a language other than English, new citizen voters, new residents, and incarcerated voters; mitigating the physical access to polling places so they are accessible to persons with disabilities; obtaining a VoteMobile to provide mobile voting services to voters throughout the county, especially those displaced by the CZU fires in 2020; converting the county’s voting model from a polling place system to a 4-day vote center system authorized during the pandemic where any voter could vote at any location; and offering office hours for clerk and election services in Watsonville to allow customers to obtain services without having to drive to the government center.
When the global pandemic hit, instead of closing her office, Gail worked quickly to create a safe environment for customers to continue to get essential services from her office such as obtaining a marriage license or getting married. Gail’s staff worked remotely, and she and one other staff person managed the onsite, in-person marriage functions so people could continue with their plans to get married. Gail insisted, “You cannot quarantine love.”
Gail always believed she had the best job in the county managing the office of love and voting. But, after more than 27 years, it was time to make a change. Since retirement, Gail has joined the boards of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Girls Inc, and Women’s Educational Success at Cabrillo College. Gail is currently working with a group to launch a Local Government Fellows Scholarship program to provide support for students to pursue an education that can lead to a career in local government. Gail cannot shake the election bug, so she is working with the California Democratic Party’s Voter Protection Committee and was recently hired as a consultant working with Civitas Public Affairs to advocate for the Election Infrastructure Initiative to provide for long-term, sustainable federal funding for local elections offices over the next 10 years. Gail is also a founding member of WILDR, Women in Leadership for Diverse Representation, a Santa Cruz County group of women who are providing training and education opportunities for women to encourage them to take on local leadership roles including running for office, serving on a board or commission, or supporting women running for office. Gail has been an outspoken advocate for suicide prevention awareness and mental health resources after her husband, Tom, died by suicide on November 19, 2018.
In her spare time, Gail enjoys going to the beach with her labradoodle Darwin, spending time with her two adult children Jacob & Emily, connecting with family and friends, and traveling.