LETTER: Qualifications Should be Required of Treasurer
To the Editor-
With the election a week away, I wanted to remind Portage County residents of one of the reasons I am running for County Treasurer.
The County Treasurer office was formed by our state constitution in the 1850s. While there have been some statutory changes in the responsibilities of the office, the position is still an elected position with constitutional authority. When the treasurer fails to do their job, it is almost impossible to remove them from office.
The level of malfeasance has to arise to such an egregious state; it is still rare for a County Board to remove the seated County Treasurer. Add four year election cycles, the County Treasurer is almost guaranteed a job regardless of their performance.
The constitution needs to be changed to reflect the current requirements and the accountability necessary to ensure financial fortitude. Tom Mallison stated at the LWV (League of Women Voters) forum that he is against any changes to the position. I believe it is time we came out of the 19th century and adopted 21st century values to reflect our times. The days of political paybacks needs to give way to creating a treasurer position that has the expertise and accountability necessary to do the job.
The treasurer needs to go through the hiring process like any county department head. Job performance, continuity of service and adherence to policy and procedures would be just a few benefits of making it an at hire position.
We could create a job description for the position with actual qualifications versus a popularity contest where the only qualifications are that you are resident of Portage County, over the age of 18 and not a convicted felon.
I started the conversation of a constitutional change with a local legislature at the beginning of this year but she has failed to do anything with it. It is my belief that someone needs to take a stand and begin the process of seeking a change. It will be easier to advocate change as a treasurer.
Unfortunately, some fear change and it will be a challenge because political parties do not want to give up their power and presence in a county. I am up for the challenge regardless of the outcome of the election. That is how important this issue is.
I would encourage Portage County residents to contact your state legislatures and encourage them to seek a constitutional change in how a County Treasurer is selected.
Here is one last thought: Tom Mallison and I have about the same amount of political experience. Put party affiliation aside, your choice is either a claims adjuster (Jeff Presley) or someone who works in the mailroom (Tom Mallison).
I wonder if either of us would have made it to the first interview. Help me advocate for real change from within.
Candidate, Portage Co. Treasurer