The vote in the primary on the Republican ballot for Clay County Auditor in early August was very instructive. The Republican voters chose William James Norris by only 134 votes. Norris appears to have no qualifications for the office and was exposed by me, the Clay County Young Republicans, by the Kansas City Star, and by the Liberty Tribune. It showed us many voters are clueless about who they are voting for. Beyond knowing that they should at least go to the polls, many of them knew nothing about the down ballot races that they were voting for. It showed that despite the fact that politics is changing because of the Tea Party, the new media like my blog, and the social media sites, sometimes politics just remains the same. Finally, it showed us just how distrusting people are of the traditional media like the KC Star and the Liberty Tribune.
I find this incredibly sad and really frustrating, especially for someone that commits thirty minutes to an hour of his day just reading and learning about what is going on politically in this country. I don’t make one cent on this blog, I do it because I care about my community and the county I live in. I think it’s supremely disappointing that someone like Norris, who by all appearances could possibly start a career as a con-man, ends up as the guy to vote for on the November ballot in the party I often vote for. I figured it was time to do something about this, so I scheduled a meeting with current Clay County Auditor and Democrat candidate Sheila Ernzen.
I met with Ms. Ernzen last Monday, and I must admit it was an instructive and informative conversation. In today’s political climate we get in the habit of completely generalizing someone because of their political party. I don’t think this is a fair thing to do with Ms. Ernzen. Nor do I think it’s a fair thing to do with an entire group of people that continue to speak out through the tea party. My first impressions were very positive, she is very polite, passionate about auditing and numbers, and really seems to care about her community and her job role as Clay County Auditor. Ms. Ernzen was appointed to the position by Governor Nixon about two years ago.
I started off by asking Ms. Ernzen what she felt her greatest accomplishments had been over the last two years as Clay County Auditor. She said that she was proud of the fact that she had reconciled the general ledger for the first time in 10 years! I about fell out of my chair when I heard this, I don’t know much about accounting, but I know that I reconcile my checkbook every month. Kudos to Ms. Ernzen for this accomplishment. In a follow up email with she also mentioned that because of this action she has saved the county $100,000 in outside audit fees over the last two years. In addition to this she also prepared all of the financial statements herself, so when the outside audit came in all they had to do was review the financial statements. During the interview she also mentioned how she had changed the TIF calculation process.
I asked her about her goals over the next four years if elected. The first thing is that she wants to initiate a purchasing card program for the county. This is kind of like a charge card that allows members of county government to make purchases for their various areas. The positive is that there is a 1% return on the use of the purchasing card. Seems like a good idea to me. She also commented on how she would like to streamline the bill paying process inside of county government. Much of the process is still paper oriented and not electronic. Sounds like another sensible idea.
I asked Ms. Ernzen to explain her job role as auditor to me a little. I generally understand what an auditor does, but I don’t know the specifics. The auditors basic function at the county level is to take all of the financial transactions and put them into statements and make sure that the transactions follow the law and are accounted for. She stressed the point that in many ways she is a CFO of county government, but is a CFO that really has no control over how the money is spent. She stressed the importance of following the rule of law in doing her job.
One of the interesting things that I took away from our meeting is that there are still good, honest, fiscally conservative Democrats out there. The only problem is they are becoming a dying breed. Ms. Ernzen is probably more of an independent than anything, and as it goes with our political process, you do have to pick a party. She did vote for Obama in 2008, but I sensed a bit of frustration about President Obama. I didn’t ask her point blank if she would vote for him again, but I suspect that won’t happen.
I am pleased to endorse Sheila Ernzen, a Democrat, for Clay County Auditor in the election in November. I hope more Republicans in Clay County are willing to cross party lines for the good of Clay County and vote for her in the general election. It is not about party! And if you think it is, then you are exactly what Democrats accuse Republicans of being sometimes; closed-minded. William James Norris has not proven he is qualified to be auditor, refuses to answer tough questions when asked, cannot prove that he graduated from William Jewell, and he is now completely hiding from the public. His only internet resource for his campaign was on Facebook, it has since been taken down. He still exists on Twitter as @williamnkc, with a whopping 6 followers.
You can find Sheila Ernzen for Auditor on Facebook here.
She is on Twitter @ernzen4auditor
Ms. Ernzen said that there was a website in the works.
Please do your county a favor, call your friends and family that live in Clay County and vote, don’t pull a straight ballot in November. Know your candidates when you go to the polls! To me, this is what the Tea Party is about, asking for honest people in government and expecting more out of our political process and candidates.