Nadia Maria Davis Lockyer's Comeback

Her political future once seemed limitless—then came scandal, rehab and disgrace. Now, the former Santa Ana school trustee and Alameda County supervisor is simply happy to be herself

Nadia Maria Davis Lockyer's Comeback
Photo: John Gilhooley | Design: Dustin Ames


This is how I introduce myself to Nadia Maria Davis Lockyer, though I've known her a long time. It's been at least 15 years, since back when this paper and she were young, back when we gladly, gratefully and, in one case, wonderfully used each other.

Because of that, she has agreed to meet me at the coffeehouse across from her son's school. There have been other calls, other requests, she says—"Oprah's network and 20/20"—but she's turned them down. Still, there has been a part of her that has, since that night in the motel where Nadia says she was assaulted, yearned to give her side of things. That wasn't possible then—law enforcement took her immediately to treatment where she remained for a month and a half, unable to communicate while the man she says assaulted her and introduced her to meth and blackmailed her with two sex tapes was free to talk to whoever he wanted.

At home in Long Beach: “One of the reasons I started using [meth] was so I could work harder . . . so I could be Wonder Woman.”
John Gilhooley
At home in Long Beach: “One of the reasons I started using [meth] was so I could work harder . . . so I could be Wonder Woman.”
Nadia with Arthur Carmona in 2006
Faces of Wrongful Conviction Conference at UCLA Law School, April 9, 2006
Nadia with Arthur Carmona in 2006

"They printed all his words," she says, "and I got suicidal."

She had taken a seat near the coffeehouse door, and I walked over and extended my hand. I had never actually met her, not in person. She had always been a name (Nadia Maria Davis, Nadia Davis Lockyer), a name and an issue (education, Arthur Carmona, Santa Ana), a name and a description (beautiful, young, committed), a name and a relationship (Wally Davis' daughter, Bill Lockyer's wife), a name and a promise (star, someday, soon).

The Nadia I shook hands with looked very different from the one I had seen weeks before in a local news report from a Northern California station. She had appeared pale and uncomfortable going through the compulsory paces of TV news—Here I am, walking by myself, for no apparent reason, directly toward a film crew I'm pretending to not notice—and she spoke about how happy she was to be in Long Beach, how the focus of her life was her son, Diego, how grateful she was that her sister, Anja, had called the cops when she discovered that Nadia had drug paraphernalia in the bedroom she shared with her son in Anja's home.

This Nadia looked and sounded healthier. Her handshake was firm. When I invited her to sit at my table, she walked confidently, set down her purse, leaned forward and began to talk. I leaned forward and listened. We remained like that for two and a half hours, my mouth sometimes tumbling agape, her hands sometimes cradling her head, the two of us acting out what must have appeared to the patrons of Viento y Agua to be the most intense eHarmony date ever.

I did notice something she had spoken about on the phone before our meeting: the right side of her face, despite the makeup, was noticeably bruised, the result of a rollerblading accident, and I wondered about the odds of someone metaphorically hitting bottom also doing so on their face. Also, rollerblading?

Sometimes she apologized for going on too long, sometimes for going in too many directions. She paused only to check whether it was time to place herself on the playground bench at Diego's school. He expects her to be sitting on the bench every afternoon when he rounds the last school building, and nothing in her day takes precedent over that.

"When I was arrested, when they took me away, I remember he was on the couch; I can see his elbows on the back of the couch, watching them taking me away, looking into his eyes. That tore me to pieces. Since then, I've been hyper-vigilant with him that if I say I'm going to be somewhere, I am."

So this had been the one ground rule for this interview: We break for the bench.

Besides that, she talked. She talked and talked, apologizing intermittently for talking so much, then went on to talk about why she needed to talk so much. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow says of Kurtz's widow: "She talked as thirsty men drink." Nadia Lockyer is parched. She gulps mouthfuls of what happened and what were you thinking and where do you go from here.

Kurtz's widow was blissfully unaware of the monster her beloved had become, his actions inexplicable, unrecognizable, seemingly impossible to reconcile with anyone who had known him. So it goes for many who knew Nadia before she headed north. That Nadia, the one with a ceiling so high that offices such as senator and governor weren't mentioned as what-ifs but whens, would flame out so absurdly dark and spectacular seemed inconceivable. Also, meth? Seriously? Meth?

She herself seems, at times, surprised, and it is not uncommon when talking about some of the unfortunate choices she has made to talk about what "Nadia" did, what "Nadia" was thinking. In fact, she talks about "Nadia" when talking about the person people assumed she was or expected she'd become. Yes, she talks about "Nadia" making horrible decisions, but also "Nadia" who has a genuine love and passion and desire for helping individuals.

Then again, she says it was that desire that was twisted and eventually used to try to destroy her and her family.

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