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PRIMARY: SKAGIT COUNTY AUDITOR [Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, Wash. :: ]
[July 20, 2014]

PRIMARY: SKAGIT COUNTY AUDITOR [Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, Wash. :: ]

(Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 20--Skagit County Auditor Jeanne Youngquist faces challenger Cheryl Mitchell in the election this year.

Both candidates say preparing for and adapting to new technologies for election and accounting services is the biggest challenge facing the office.

Youngquist said she has already facilitated changes to improve efficiency of office operations and would continue to move in that direction if re-elected.

Mitchell said efficiency and accountability would be her top priorities as county auditor.

Jeanne Youngquist Age: 69 Occupation: Skagit County auditor Party preference: Democrat How long have you lived in Skagit County? All my life.

Previous elected offices held: This is my first elected office.

Community involvement: Present and past service: YMCA Board of Director for six years; Farm Bureau Women's chairperson; United Way of Skagit County Board of Directors, co-chair Allocation and Appropriation Committee; Gov. Lowry's Health Care Task Force; SWAN Business Woman of the Year finalist; Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland treasurer; Skagit County Farm Bureau Policy chairman and state committee; Cascade Harvest Coalition board member; Heart of Washington board member; Northwest Agricultural Business Center board member; the Berry Good School secretary/treasurer; Northwest director Washington State Alumni Association; recipient of Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award; Washington State University College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences Advisory Board; Trinity Lutheran Church member, sound system and secretary, member of Lutheran Women's Missionary League; Bi-Valve Bash & Taste of Skagit fundraisers for clean water and food banks; Pioneer Association Board; Skagit Historical Museum Board; state Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation Heritage Barn Committee; Washington Association of County Auditors; Washington Association of Elected Officials. I was in the initial or premier Leadership Skagit class and have participated in curriculum each year since then. Beginning in the agriculture session, then government, and law and justice.

Campaign website: To be re-developed Why are you running for office? I seek continued improvements to this successful Auditor's Office. We have opened bridges between county departments, accomplishing all I had planned while reducing costs, capturing overlooked resources and providing new efficiencies: Redacted personal identification items from an increased online record availability (now back to 1977).

Remodeled the election office with a grant from the Help America Vote Act. Now all election processing takes place within the Auditor's Office, providing accessibility, transparency, efficiency and security to election processing. No more transporting heavy boxes of ballots up and down stairs to and from the room we called the dungeon.

Worked to provide a new voting privacy opportunity to our disabled population.

Worked with legislation to provide Quick Titles to our licensing customers.

Oversee five successful vehicle and vessel licensing sub-agents.

Received CAFR national awards for county financial reports.

Achieved the first state audit free financial reports in over 18 years.

We did all this with an outstanding staff that has provided pleasing service to the public with a stressing 20 percent reduction of four FTEs. With a staff that cares about each other as well as all they serve.

Why should voters choose you? The auditor's four departments and I have new adventures to accomplish and a respected reputation to maintain. I have proven to be responsible to the position, to the staff and community I serve.

As a descendant of Skagit Valley pioneer families, my love and dedication for this community runs deep. As owner of Mike and Jean's Berry Farm and in every position I have held, the emphasis has been on a strong work ethic, influencing thousands of Skagit County citizens and youths. I have always found ways to serve our citizens.

I have the training, experience and dedication needed to handle all aspects of this job and will continue to focus on excellent service and integrity achieved through a team approach focusing on personal and departmental accountability for the citizens of Skagit County. The diversity of the Auditor's Office and my background come together with a great staff to make a great place to work and serve.

I bring with me a Washington State University BS degree, postgraduate studies in accounting, computer science and Spanish, experience as a teacher, hospital patient access manager, founder of the Berry Good School, grant writing and co-ownership of Mike and Jean's Berry Farm.

What is the single biggest issue facing the winning candidate? The advancements and the protection of computer technology: In recording, we will be implementing new software to increase security and bring upgrades to our customers and department. This upgrade will bring to our customers the long-awaited efficiencies of e-recording, credit card use, and add avenues for digital archiving and referencing. Delays stem from the economic downturn and demands upon Information Services for county systems priorities. We presently work with our superior Information Services department on an RPT toward this goal and expect implementation when staffing and time will allow a smooth, successful transition.

In accounting, we look forward to a more paperless and efficient payroll system, the implementation of existing software modules to streamline financial records and bookkeeping efforts. Improved systems will help watch over and oversee the accounting and assets of our county and junior districts.

In elections, we join the state, looking into future system changes to meet the demands of legislation and Congress as they look for perfection in the election process.

In licensing, the state Department of Licensing is looking to upgrade the state system for which we will help plan.

How will you address it? We will invest time and effort as a team into the decision-making that will determine a smooth and successful outcome. That includes working closely with our partners and those affected by our progress.

Cheryl D. Mitchell Age: 51 Party preference: Republican Occupation: MEI Document Control, Anvil Corp. at Shell Puget Sound Refinery How long have you lived in Skagit County? 44 years Previous elected offices held: N/A Community involvement: Supports United Way, Susan G. Komen, March of Dimes, Goodwill.

Campaign website: N/A Why are you running for office? I am seeking a new challenge and fulfilling my desire to serve the citizens of Skagit County. I look forward to exploring new/ existing technologies to improve election information accessible from the current website as well as each department within the Auditor's Office.

Why should voters choose you? Citizens will know I am their advocate in county government by my commitment to providing the most effective and efficient services possible. If elected, I will safeguard taxpayers money in our control and see that it is spent wisely.

What is the single biggest issue facing the winning candidate? I would add fresh perspective to any and all issues the office may face.

How will you address it? I will promote and ensure accountability in the Auditor's Office and throughout county government. I will lead by example emphasizing integrity, honesty and ethics by all staff in the Auditor's Office.

___ (c)2014 the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.) Visit the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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