Election 2018: Meet your candidates for Okanogan County Auditor

Editor’s Note: We asked the two candidates for Okanogan County Auditor to answer a few questions for our readers and the following are their answers in their own words.

Cari Hall

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Cari Hall

Cari Hall

I was raised in Okanogan and graduated from Okanogan High School in 1988. I have been married to my husband Roy for 23 years this year. I have 19 years of experience in finance and accounting management.  I have experience in grant administration, general ledger management, budget management and cash management. I also have extensive experience in the supervision and oversight of general accounting functions including: payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable and asset management. For thirteen years, I was the Chief Financial Officer for a local multi-million dollar not for profit business. I have been the Finance Manager for Okanogan County Auditor for the last 2+ years. I am responsible for coordinating all accounting functions. I also have worked in recording, voter’s registration and I am certified in vehicle licensing.

Why do you want to be elected?

This community is very important to me which is why I want to be your next Auditor. Although the Auditor is responsible for multiple highly important duties, it is first and foremost a finance position and it is my belief that the Auditor should have the skills, knowledge and experience to perform all of these duties. I believe that my experience and knowledge makes me uniquely qualified for the position.

What are the three most important issues facing the office?

  1. Unfunded Mandates: Over the last year, the State has implemented multiple new mandates with no funding. With 26 general fund departments all utilizing the same limited resources, the challenge is to find the funding to pay for these mandates while maintaining the level of services that all the departments need to provide. Since it is the task of the Board of County Commissioners to set the county’s budget, I believe that communication is imperative. I will keep them informed of the mandates for the department and work with them to ensure that a working balance is maintained.
  2. Underfunded Mandates: The State has increased the fees for recording and vehicle licensing multiple times over the last two years but has not increased the amount that the local government receives ($5 per transaction) for many years. This is a drain on the local county resources. I would like to work with the Board of County Commissioners and other Auditor’s in the State to, as a unit, negotiate with the State to adjust the amount that the counties receive without increasing the fees for these services.
  3. Transition: On January 1, 2019, the Auditor’s office will lose two long term employees due to retirement whose positions are vital to the office and the community. It is imperative that a smooth transition happens so as not to interrupt the services we provide to our community. With my knowledge and experience of all of the duties within the Auditor’s office, I can ensure that the transition is seamless.

Randy Gates

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Randy Gates

Randy Gates

51-years-old from Omak, Washington. Born in Omak to Rudoph and Bonnie Gates on Mother’s Day 1967. Rudoph grew up on the family lumber mill near Pontiac Ridge in Molson. Bonnie grew up on Johnson Creek near Conconully. My family includes Wildermuth, Townsend, Field, Partridge and Cheetam calling home from Chesaw to Conconully and Oroville to Brewster. I love agriculture, logging, hiking, camping, fishing, skiing and boating here in Okanogan County.

Graduated with honors from Omak High School with strong background in math/accounting and attended a business college in Bellingham under the accounting program. Married to Leah for 20 years with three daughters and four grandchildren here in Okanogan County.

Worked ten years in the Okanogan County Auditor’s office as the licensing supervisor. Customer service specialist with a desire to help. Have been in a supervisor, director, manager and assistant manager for 25 years of my work experience. Served as local soccer club president and referee coordinator and enjoy coaching and helping our youth on a volunteer bases.

Why do you want to be elected?

I love Okanogan County and want to give back to my community. Have a strong background in vehicle licensing and accounting and will be a working auditor available during business hours. Want to provide an atmosphere where you feel like visiting the auditor’s office and will be heard, helped and cared for in your office.

What are the three most important issues facing the office?

  1. We need someone who will work hard to organize the office space to be functional for all departments.
  2. By grant writing I hope to create a Peggy Robbins research center for records department and a grant to create an elections department that is consolidated into one area. We have such an iconic courthouse others have to feel like I do.
  3. Customer service can always be improved and worked on making sure all residents feel welcomed in their Auditor’s office. Continuation of prepaid election ballots making sure voters have a great avenue to have a voice in this county and the state.