By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Don Edgar has suspended his fledgling campaign for Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor after his wife took to Facebook to vent over not being consulted about his decision to run for the office.
The personal injury attorney and Santa Rosa Junior College trustee announced in September that he would challenge Bill Rousseau for the county post in 2014.
Rousseau, the county’s longtime chief deputy assessor, was appointed to the job last year after Janice Atkinson retired.
Edgar launched his campaign with a colorful website and Facebook page bearing an image of him smiling in front of a set of law books and beside a photo of an American flag flapping in the breeze.
But not long after, Edgar’s wife, Lori Williams Edgar, went onto the campaign’s page on the ubiquitous social media site to express her surprise and dismay that her husband was kicking off his campaign for the office.
“Don, This is NOT the honorable thing to DO!” Williams Edgar wrote in early October. “You shared Nothing with Your Wife or Family about this Campaign! Absolutely nothing. … only yesterday a friend brought this to my attention!!??”
The post goes on to question Edgar’s relationship with state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who has endorsed Edgar.
“Also, what is your relationship with Noreen Evans????? Your (sic) a Married Man?! What’s Going On? You revealed nothing to US!!??!” Williams Edgar wrote, signing the post “Lori (your spouse).”
Soon thereafter, the message was removed from the site, though it was saved by someone who shared it with The Press Democrat. On Oct. 4, Edgar issued a statement saying he was cancelling a Nov. 4 campaign fundraiser.
“At this time I am placing my campaign on hold while I further consider the impact that conducting a vigorous campaign for county-wide office would have on my family,” Edgar wrote.
He said he would “make a final decision about the campaign shortly.”
That was nearly three weeks ago. On Wednesday he said no decisions about his campaign have been made, and called the issue “a private family matter.”
“This whole thing is an unfortunate airing of a private disagreement between my wife and myself and is solely about my choice to be in public service,” Edgar said. “It does not involve anyone else.”
He declined to answer additional questions about the issue, including the nature of his relationship with Evans.
After being contacted by The Press Democrat, Evans released a statement denying she had any inappropriate relationship with Edgar, calling it a “very serious accusation that is both false and baseless.”
“It appears to be a family matter that should be taken up with the Edgars,” Evans said through a spokeswoman.
Reached at her home, Williams Edgar said she was not actually upset that her husband would consider public service. She said her grandfather was the late Sonoma County Clerk Eugene Williams, who served from 1957 until his death in 1977.
She and her husband had spoken in the past about his one day seeking the office, she said.
Nevertheless, she was “shocked” when she got an email announcing his candidacy and inviting her to his Nov. 4 fundraiser because it wasn’t a decision the couple had made together, she said.
She realizes now she “should have taken a deep breath” before making taking her frustrations out on his Facebook page.
“I think I was just personally hurt a little bit, but I totally support him,” she said.
The announcement of the Nov. 4 event asked people to “Please join State Senator Noreen Evans to celebrate kicking-off Don Edgar’s campaign for Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor.”
Evans, who announced in August she would not seek re-election, has done consulting work for Edgar’s law firm since 2010, state records show. She earned between $1,000 and $10,000 in 2010 and between $10,000 and $100,000 the following two years.
Williams Edgar said it surprised her to see Evans, who she knew had worked with her husband at the once prominent local law firm Lanahan & Reilley, listed at being involved in the fundraiser.
Williams Edgar said she doesn’t believe her husband and Evans are having an inappropriate relationship, she said.
“I think it was just continuing on my shock of the actual event,” said Williams Edgar, who owns a day spa in Fountaingrove. “It was probably a little exaggeration on my part.”
(You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @citybeater.)