Curry County is actively seeking candidates to be treasurer for at least the next two years.
On Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to accept applications through Monday and conduct interviews Tuesday. The person selected will be asked to start immediately, of possible.
The vacancy came after Terry Hanscam, who won the race for treasurer in November, announced Dec. 30 he was resigning and would not take the seat. The outgoing treasurer, Debbie Crumley, agreed to stay on through the end of January to give the county time to find a replacement.
The county has been considering the possibility that Hanscam might not take the seat for some time. Commissioner Chris Paasch said the county should have acted sooner.
“The treasurer position, I’m going to say four to six weeks to train someone,” Paasch said. “If we wait a long time, I believe we’re going to run into a position where she’s going to leave and leave the county with a half-trained treasurer.”
Paasch said he tried to fix the issue by looking for candidates in December.
“We could have moved to fill this spot weeks ago, and Commissioner (Court) Boice moved strongly to stop it,” Paasch said. “We are now in a dilemma to get a treasurer. I think this is something that needs to happen immediately, if not sooner. How we do that, I don’t know.”
The person who is chosen by commissioners will hold the seat through Dec. 31, 2022. They would have to choose to run for the office if they wanted to continue.
“It’s done, we can’t go back,” Commissioner John Herzog said. “We have to go forward in the right way. I think you’re right we need to go as quick as we can.”
Boice, who was named chair of the board earlier in the meeting, said he was not concerned and called for a 10-day application period.
“We’re in a 10-day process, and think we’re in very good shape,” he said. “A lot of treasurers, CPAs don’t like going through elections. I think we’ll get some very good applications that come in. If we had treated him a little better, I think he’d still be here.”
County Assessor and Tax Collector Jim Kolen told the board it is not uncommon to have assessors elected with no experience. In that case, the state and neighboring counties often assist the new assessor.
Kolen the accused Paasch of saying he wanted to be treasurer.
Paasch strongly denied that, saying he had volunteered himself to serve because of his financial background, but he denied ever saying he “wanted” the job.
David Barnes spoke to commissioners, saying it was, in fact, an emergency situation.
“I am a financial professional,” he said. “I’ve trained and learned over a dozen different financial software packages. I’ve master many. I cannot strongly enough encourage you this is an emergency, this is a hair on fire emergency. For you to wait until Jan. 14 to accept applications, if you hire someone, the earliest they could start is probably Jan. 25. That gives five days to train. That is unfair to this person.”
Boice said he understood the deadline and would move up his timetable to speed up the process.
“This is a small county. I think the word’s out,” he said. “I understand the urgency, but there’s some degree of finality on this situation.”
Then things began to get tense.
“Again, I don’t understand why this couldn’t have been done two or three weeks ago and we could have had this in place,” Paasch said. “You shouldn’t be telling the public we couldn’t go forward. The ORS (Oregon Revised Statutes) clearly states if the absence didn’t happen, the other person takes the office and we move on.”
“We couldn’t do anything until we had a vacancy,” Boice replied. “I don’t want the public to think we squandered two weeks here.”
As he did several times in the meeting, Herzog attempted to calm things down.
“Gentlemen, enough, we can’t go back,” he said.
But that didn’t stop the sniping.
“I’m going to conclude with this, we can talk about your reference to 236 until we’re blue in the face,” Boice said, referring to the specific code in state law. “We did not have a vacancy. We do now, and we’re moving forward immediately. I’m not misleading the public. To the contrary, I don’t tell whoppers like you do.”
“Excuse me,” Paasch replied. “I’m going to tell you commissioner, I’m not going to tolerate you continuing to berate me in public. That little snide comment you just did, I will not tolerate it. You’ve been doing this for months, and I will not tolerate it.”
Despite the arguing, commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with a faster deadline. Applications will be accepted through Monday. Interested candidates are asked to send a cover letter and resume to SwifJ@co.curry.or.us.