Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, October 09, 2006

"Candidate: Auditor’s office improved since she took over"

An article from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Whitman County Auditor Eunice Coker said voters should re-elect her because of the customer service and hard work she’s demonstrated during her time in office.

Coker said the auditor’s office was a wreck when she took over four years ago.

“The county finances and payroll were so messed up that the county had creditors after it,” she said. “There were contract employees who hadn’t been paid, and claims from the junior taxing districts were out of order.”

She said her major campaign promise focused on increasing the proficiency of the auditor’s office, which she accomplished within her first year in office.

“It didn’t take long to do,” she said. “But someone just had to do it.”

The other part of her 2002 campaign platform focused on customer service.

Coker said that when she started, the Department of Licensing counter had one employee and the window often was closed. She lobbied for another half-time employee to help run the window and keep it open throughout business hours.

She said her staff is cross-trained in the elections, legals and payroll departments.

“We all can switch hats,” she said.

New computer systems and document readers purchased by the Auditor’s Office will increase efficiency.

The current deadline for people to file transactions is 2:30 p.m. With the new systems, Coker said the deadline will move to 3:30 or 4 p.m.

“My goal is to facilitate the public and private business,” she said. “But some people don’t see it that way.”

Coker said her Democratic opponent, Nathan Horter, and others have attacked her for allocating grant money designed to make voting easier to repair the county courthouse’s elevator.

Coker said there’s a need for a new elevator, and there are grants to pay for the repair.

She said there are two kinds of grants available. One provides money to replace antiquated voting machines and connect the state’s counties to the Secretary of State’s computerized election system. The other is designed to help people get out and vote.

Coker said that includes everyone, and a functional elevator is a legitimate need for the county.

“Right now we are not accessible to people with disabilities,” she said. “This money can make it so we have a safe environment.

“Other counties have used the money to pave parking lots and adjust curb size.”

Coker said election facilitation and a knowledge of the system is vital, and that she is up to speed on the state’s election process.

She said learning the laws that apply to the Help America Vote Act of 2003, the state’s switch to a pick-a-party primary system, and the county going to a vote-by-mail system brought a lot of challenges. Now, she knows how to oversee an election and her knowledge of the system is valuable to the county’s residents.

“Kinks always pop up,” she said. “But we identify them and fix them.

“This is a working position. You don’t just sit on your hands and ask people, ‘How’s it going?’
Nathan Horter and his surrogates in the Whitman County Democratic Party, including chairperson Carolyn Cress and State Committeewoman Jane Guido, have attacked Eunice over far more than the courthouse elevator. There has been a non-stop letter writing campaign accusing Eunice of malfeasance, incompotence, and lying. As usual, there is absolutely no substance to any of these allegations. No objective evidence or proof has been offered. Just a lot of "I was missing a ballot" or "a friend called the Auditor's Office and was given the wrong information."

And yet Horter had the audacity to claim on The PES today that he was not going to run a campaign of mudslinging. Please. Horter may not have attacked Eunice personally, but its obvious that the Democrats plan to cover Horter's lack of experience and qualifications for the Auditor's position by playing up voter's dissatisfaction with the new vote-by-mail process and the "pick a party" primary.

One thing I haven't heard discussed much is Horter's belief in same-day voter registration. In other words, people could register to vote and vote on the same day. You think Washington has credibility issues now with dead voters and double voters, wait until something like that is passed.

Horter himself accused Whitman County Republican Party chairman Wes Taylor of "dividing the community" by encouraging WSU students not to vote. All Taylor did was state that students were not as engaged or interested in local politics, a sentiment echoed by a WSU Poli Sci professors a few weeks later in the Evergreen, with no similar controversy.

I also got a kick out of Horter's answer to Scotty's question about big box stores in Pullman and Whitman County. Horter, a frequent poster on liberal blogs such as Daily Kos, has obviously learned well. His response was that we "should have a plan" before we grow. Such a typical liberal response, and so typically wrong. Pullman DOES have a plan for growth. It's called the Comprehensive Plan, and it was updated in 1999. The city believes, and the Hearing Examiner agreed, that big box stores, including Wal-Mart, fit the city's vision for growth.

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