by MILENE HENLEY
If you’d asked me 20 years ago if I would ever consider running for office, I would have laughed at the idea.
I’m a private person, and the thought of running for public office would have terrified me. But here we are, and last month completed seven years of service for me as San Juan County’s elected County Auditor. And yes, I’m signing up for a run at another four.
Those seven years have been a wild ride. My second year in office the country’s greatest recession since the Great Depression hit San Juan County. I vividly remember the April Council meeting at which I advised the council to cut $1 million from the county budget, immediately. Since that year, the county has reduced staffing every year.
While the country, and the county, are both slowly navigating our way out of the doldrums, we still have not recovered to where we were before the recession.
Finance is not my only area of responsibility which has seen challenges. Dramatic elections in 2000, 2004 and 2008, at both the federal and state levels, combined with a tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans over access to polls versus security at the polls, have resulted in legislative changes every year. Locally, a lawsuit filed before I took office lingers on, settled in parts but still not fully closed.
Our excellent elections staff have rolled with the waves, adapting practices, procedures and publications to remain compliant with laws and responsive to the needs of the citizens.
In recording, a long project, initiated in 2009, to get all of San Juan County’s old recorded documents digitized and online lingers on. Poor performance by a vendor left us with a pile of un-scanned and/or un-indexed documents, and we are working hard to complete the work within time and budget constraints. Licensing is a constant challenge, as we work with the State’s outdated software and systems, systems which were completely shut down, in San Juan County, during the recent telecommunications outage.
I enjoy my job. I enjoy representing you, the people, in the management of your money. I enjoy ensuring that elections are run cleanly and fairly, and that documents and licenses are handled properly, promptly and respectfully. I enjoy receiving phone calls from citizens with questions, whether the question is within my areas of responsibility or not; and I especially enjoy when I am able to help the callers resolve their issues or at least point them to a person who can.
So yes, I would like to do the job for another four years, and I will run for County Auditor again in 2014. I appreciate your support, your encouragement, and your respect. Here’s to smoother sailing for us all in our next several years.