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Voters get glimpse of candidate platforms

By From page A9 | March 19, 2014

Offering us a preview of who they are and why they’re running, almost all of the candidates for El Dorado County elected department head positions filed a statement of candidacy.

Joe Harn, 56, CPA, who is running to be re-elected Auditor-Controller, said his top priorities include protecting people’s tax dollars while ensuring the county stays debt-free. He notes when he was first elected, the county was $20 million in debt. The county now has no debt and closed the most recent fiscal year with a positive general fund cash balance of $54 million, according to Harn. Citing other cost saving measures he has implemented, Harn said he has saved the county $700,000 on a consulting contract, intervened when the county wanted to adopt a Cadillac retirement plan for employees and most recently pushed to reduce resident’s DMV fees by advising the county to reduce its share.

His opponent, Mike Owen, 52, CPA, said he previously worked as a CPA for high-tech and medical device companies and currently lists his occupation as winemaker and businessman. He claims that Harn, who has been Auditor-Controller for 18 years, has been in the job too long and it’s time for a change. Owen said his experience includes leading a public stock offering, auditing companies like Apple, Cisco and Ford Aerospace, and leading complex  system conversions similar to the county’s planned transition from its DOS-based finance system. “Our county is changing rapidly. What worked 18 years ago is simply not effective today,” Owen wrote.

In the race for District Attorney, incumbent Vern Pierson, 50, said he’s been a criminal prosecutor for more than 20 years and has prosecuted hundreds of cases, including violent career criminals and sex offenders. He noted that he wrote the statute which forever barred sex offenders from working in classrooms. Pierson said he also started a successful cold-case homicide unit, created one of the first paperless district attorney’s offices and recently formed a regional economic crimes task force. Pierson also noted his community involvement; he’s an active volunteer with programs that help children and veterans including Big Brothers Big Sisters and CASA.

His opponent, Judson Henry, 52, cites his 10 years of experience as a business and bankruptcy attorney as well as extensive experience restructuring and reorganizing the administration of sophisticated organizations. Henry said he is running because, “Our District Attorney’s Office lost community trust by basing decisions on power, money and political alignments. I want to serve as your District Attorney to change this focus to the proper mission of prosecuting actual crime — not wasting millions pursuing personal and political vendettas ultimately harmful to the economic, civic and personal well-being of all citizens.”

Henry only registered to vote in El Dorado County on March 5. Previously he was registered in Placer County.

Running as the incumbent Recorder-Clerk is William “Bill” Schultz. Serving as County Recorder-Clerk since 1995, Schultz said, “The integrity, safety and accuracy of our election process is my number one priority.” Noting that he has successfully conducted 35 elections to date, he citied as accomplishments the recently installed, fully electronic recording system for documents to save time and money for the public and improve office efficiency. He said the Election Department’s website has been recognized for content, design and interactivity.

Running against Schultz is first timer Chris Amaral, who describes his occupation as businessman/program management. He said he is running because, “After twenty years of business as usual, it is time for a change.” Amaral said his qualifications include serving in leadership positions in finance, accounting and operations for medium to large corporations. Citing his experience working with government agencies to help them automate manual processes and implement effective technology, he promises if elected to “enhance our systems and processes to better serve the county and its citizens.”

Like Henry, Amaral only recently registered to vote in the county after relocating here.

Running as the incumbent Treasurer-Tax Collector is C.L. Raffety. She lists her qualifications as being a CPA along with having a master’s degree in Business Administration. Previously she served two terms as a Los Rios Community College Trustee and is Past President of the Statewide Treasurer-Tax Collector Association. Describing her accomplishments as Treasurer-Tax Collector, Raffety said she doubled interest earnings her first few years in office, “while preserving the safety of the portfolio and maintaining cash flow for the county to pay its bills.” She notes she has also improved internal controls as well as electronic processes to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Running against Raffety is termed-out District 4 El Dorado County Supervisor Ron Briggs. He said “keeping us rural” and “conservative fiscal management” ideals guided his decisions as supervisor and will also do so as Treasurer. As a supervisor, Briggs aid he opposed new and higher taxes, balanced every county budget and has paid off all county debts. He also helped end “pay enhancements” for some county executives and passed an extension of Measure Y so new development would pay the cost of transportation improvements. As Treasurer-Tax Collector, he pledged to “oppose higher taxes, protect Proposition 13, and stop pay manipulation and pension spiking by elected officials.”

Running unopposed is Sheriff-Coroner-Public Administrator John D’Agostini who manages a budget of $58 million and 405 employees and is responsible for law enforcement and service functions including patrol, investigations, corrections, civil, coroner, dispatch and public administrator. In order to save money, D’Agostini said his team has “audited every section of the Sheriff’s Office to identify duplication, waste and areas where we can improve financially.” In addition, his department has implemented a Total Policing Strategy that promotes professionalism. D’Agostini also commits himself to respecting the U.S. Constitution and our Second Amendment rights.

Also running unopposed is incumbent Surveyor Rich Briner, who has worked in the county surveyor’s office for the past 14 years, including eight years as deputy county Surveyor and three years as current county Surveyor. His first 21 years of land surveying experience was in the private sector. His job is to review and approve all survey maps and solve complex issues of land divisions. “I encourage my staff to develop expertise in their knowledge of Surveying and Geographic Information Services so that, together, we can provide excellent service to our citizens and other county departments and public agencies.”

Also running unopposed are Assessor Karl Weiland and Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Meyers. Neither supplied a candidate statement.

Dawn Hodson


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