Today, Kevin Easton, a candidate for Monroe County Auditor, issued a statement regarding the issue of appointing county department manager offices as opposed to electing them as is done in the current system under Indiana law.
The Herald Times has repeatedly stated its position that county offices such as the Auditor and Treasurer, among others, should be appointed. This position aligns with the Kernan-Shepard report of the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, which argued that these positions should be hired by a county executive to whom they would report.
“I understand the sentiment of the Herald Times and the Kernan report”, Easton said. “I agree that allowing everyone to run for these positions opens the door to under qualified individuals holding positions requiring very specific skills to be successful. However, I cannot agree with all of their conclusions. It would also not be in the county’s best interest for these important jobs to be open to issues such as nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism. Appointing positions has historically led to less transparency in the selection process than elections. I am in favor of more transparency in government, not less, and for candidates meeting specific qualifications being screened by the general public through election rather than a potentially partisan individual.”
Easton continued that the first step to reform these offices should be requiring minimum qualification standards similar to the Assessor’s office. “Each of these offices has professional certifications. Auditors for example have many, including the CPA, CIA, CFE, and the CGAP among others. Meeting the qualifications at least to sit for these exams is not too high a minimum standard. Many of the industry certifications have minimum education requirements that should also be a requirement of these offices. For example, it is not too much to ask a candidate for Auditor, the chief financial officer of the county, to have a degree in accounting or finance.”
Easton stated that he understands reforms in qualifications must come from the state legislature. He added that the issues regarding under qualified individuals holding these offices is a statewide issue not unique to Monroe County, and as the Auditor he would champion these reforms at a state level for the Auditor’s office. Easton added “My education, experience, and qualifications would meet any such requirements.”