Auditor candidates tout experience, trade criticism

Accusations: Gary Alexander skipped internal audits, Mary Hall took Ramtha money

lpemberton@theolympian.comOctober 22, 2013 

Thurston County auditor candidates Gary Alexander and Mary Hall address The Olympian editorial board.

OLYPHOTO

Two candidates with different types of public service experience — State Rep. Gary Alexander and Pierce County elections supervisor Mary Hall — are vying for Thurston County auditor.

So far, the race has featured some of the highest levels of rhetoric among local candidates: Hall, a Democrat, contends that Alexander, a Republican, didn’t perform internal audits as deputy auditor of finance, which led to a state audit finding for the county in 2012, and Democrats say Alexander “double-dipped” by collecting salaries from the auditor’s office and the state Legislature.

Meantime, Alexander supporters say Hall lacks finance management experience for the position, and the state Republican Party is calling for Hall to return money from a fundraiser supported by Ramtha channeler JZ Knight this month.

Nearly a year ago, videos surfaced showing Knight making controversial comments about several groups including Jews, Catholics, gays and Mexicans. The comments were made at a time when she was claiming to channel the 35,000-year-old warrior.

After complaints by the state Republican Party, Democrats announced they wouldn’t keep Knight’s $70,000 in campaign donations. They donated half of the money to support the gay marriage law and half to the Anti-Defamation League.

The auditor serves as the county’s chief financial officer in respect to expenditures, auditing all expenditures, accounts payable and payroll. He or she also serves as the county’s chief elections officer, licensing agent and recorder for real estate contracts, liens and other documents.

The elected position has an annual salary of $105,276, according to Thurston County.

Alexander was appointed as county auditor in January after former auditor Kim Wyman left to serve as secretary of state. He was the county’s deputy auditor of finance for 12 years and was a budget and program manager in state government for 25 years.

He won re-election to a two-year term in the House last fall in the 2nd District after serving eight terms in the 20th District, which is centered in Lewis County. But he says he’ll give up his seat in the Legislature at the end of the year no matter how the election turns out.

Alexander said he considers all statutory and policy-driven responsibilities of the auditor’s office to be equally important, and he believes the auditor must provide the leadership, policy direction and motivational support to ensure that division managers and staff have training, resources and support needed to meet the office’s mission.

He said he wants to continue the work he started with Wyman and her predecessor, former county auditor and Secretary of State Sam Reed.

“This is not the time to change direction or helmsman,” said Alexander, 69, of Olympia. “I am on the same course that has made our auditor’s office a state and national leader for several decades.”

Alexander has been endorsed by Wyman and Reed, as well as former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, Lacey mayor Virgil Clarkson, state Sen. Randi Becker and state Rep. J.T. Wilcox, among others.

Meanwhile, Hall is elections supervisor for the Pierce County Auditor’s Office, but has lived in the northeastern unincorporated part of the county, between Lacey and Yelm, since 1999. She’s conducted more than 80 elections, and her team won the 2012 Pierce County Innovation Award for integrating Geographic Information Systems technology with voter registration rolls during redistricting.

Hall has garnered endorsements from Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, Thurston County Commissioners Sandra Romero and Karen Valenzuela, among others.

She said the auditor’s most important responsibility is ensuring accuracy in all of its functions. If elected, she said she’ll make sure her office is regularly audited.

Hall said she also wants to increase voter participation in future elections.

“I want to partner with our educators to bring programs into schools and work to introduce voting,” she said.

Meet the candidates

Gary Alexander.

Age: 69.

Occupation: Thurston County auditor (appointed in January).

Family: Wife Donna and two grown children.

Community organizations: Member of North Thurston Kiwanis and active on several advisory boards and boards of directors, including those for Washington State Historical Society, Thurston County Boys & Girls Club, Pacific Lutheran University’s Business School, Washington Small Business Development Council and Washington State Employees Credit Union.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in business administration from the University of Washington and a Master of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

Campaign contributions reported as of Monday: $43,346.00 raised, $34,201.60 spent, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Information: Call 360-951-7243 or go to alexanderforauditor.org.

Mary Hall

Age: 53.

Occupation: Pierce County elections supervisor.

Family: Husband John and two grown children.

Community organizations: Safe Place, Nisqually Land Trust, Capitol Land Trust, PFLAG and Thurston County Progressive Network.

Education: No degree listed. However materials submitted by Hall indicate she took accounting classes at Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma and general coursework from Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., and took GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and database coursework from the University of WashingtonTacoma Office of Continuing Studies.

Campaign contributions reported as of Monday: $58,017.57 raised, $28,512.51 spent according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Information: Call 360-456-6928 or go to electmaryhall.com.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

 

 

 

 

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