Where I Stand: County Offices

It took a lot of research to come up with some selections for our county offices. Many of these offices get overlooked for the more exciting and glamorous federal or state races. I believe, though, that these choices will have a more profound effect on our day-to-day lives.

County Council At-Large C: Looking at the list of candidates and their qualifications, I believe that Janice Auger will be a good replacement for the incumbent, Jim Bradley. She’s demonstrated a “can-do” attitude with clear communication and will serve us well.

County Assessor: The assessor’s office is one of the more powerful offices in the county. They have the power to determine what your home is worth and how much in taxes you will be paying. This is a job that requires accuracy and fairness to ensure nobody is being overcharged. Lee Gardner has already shown great leadership in modernizing the office with new technology to ensure quick and accurate valuations. This is critical in our real estate bubble with home prices being forced ever higher, only at westchester real estate closing you can find houses at a affordable price. His opponent, Josie Valdez, is light on specifics on what she’d change and doesn’t make a compelling case that we need a change-up.

District Attorney: As the chief prosecutor and legal counsel for the county, the DA wields a lot of power and responsibility. Sim Gill makes a good pitch at changing things up by focusing on rehabilitation, but Lohra Miller makes a better case for reducing the top-heavy administration within the department to speed up cases and actually pursue convictions. I don’t feel that Rob Latham would be a good choice as his policies would likely bog down the office in carrying out his libertarian views instead of performing their vital job functions.

County Auditor: With deep local roots, sound education, and lots of vital experience, I believe Joe Hatch will be the best choice for county auditor. His plan is to push for modernized technology to boost efficiency, something our fast-growing county needs in order to keep service up while holding costs in check. His opponent, Sean Thomas, doesn’t have nearly as much experience in the field, something critical in a financial position.

County Clerk: Sherrie Swenson lost me several weeks ago when she tersely declared nothing to be wrong with the Diebold voting machines the county currently operates with. This flies in the face of all reason as these machines have been shown repeatedly to have flaws since 2000. New flaws in Diebold machines were discovered just months ago by a Princeton researcher. Swenson’s out-of-hand dismissal of these serious concerns does not make me think she can be counted on to ensure fair and honest elections. Charles Bonsall pretty much lost me with a one-page rant about stolen elections and voter fraud, the entirety of his campaign material. Carrie Dickson ends up bringing a lot to the table. As a professional office administrator for years in lawyer’s offices and a registered parliamentarian, she has the experience and credentials necessary to run the Clerk’s office efficiently and reliably.

County Recorder: Leslie Reberg leveled charges against the current Recorder that his office has been making shady deals when signing contracts. I call it little more than partisan sniping, and it really turned me off. Gary Ott pro-actively signed the city up for off-site backups of their records, ensuring that a catastrophe (such as an earthquake or flood) would not destroy all of the records. Criticizing a procedural error while ignoring that the outcome is greatly positive didn’t help Reberg in my book at all. Since Ott has already put the Recorder’s office onto the path of getting more done while reducing staff, I say we keep him on the job.

County Sheriff: There’s something amiss when you can’t find out any campaign information on a 16-year incumbent while searching the Internet. It’s also noteworthy that there’s little of praise to be found about him in any news articles. I think it’s time for new blood. Jim Winder has an excellent law enforcement record and some fresh ideas on shaping up our flabby Sheriff’s office. I think it’s time to give Aaron Kennard some vacation time and let Winder take over.

County Surveyor: This is an uncontested race, but I always reserve the right to use “None of the Above” as my write-in candidate. Thankfully, I feel no need to exercise that option with Reid Demman. He has plenty of surveying experience to qualify him for the job, so I see no reason to make a protest vote.

County Treasurer: Managing all of the county’s assets is no small task, and we should make sure someone with a solid track record is the one holding the purse-strings. Larry Richardson not only has the experience to do the job right, but a solid track record of reducing staff and costs while increasing caseload with no loss in service quality. Someone who can work feats like this should be retained in this position. While his opponent, Billie Larson, brings up a lot of valid points, they read more like a list of suggestions than an opposing campaign or compelling reason to change the guard. With his track record, I have little doubt that Richardson will take these suggestions to heart to improve the Treasurer’s office even further.

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