Crowded ballot for county auditor position

by Travis Fischer

There is a crowded field of candidates vying to take on the job of Cerro Gordo County Auditor in this year’s election.

The position of county auditor has been in flux since long-time auditor Ken Kline took a new position as Deputy Commissioner of Elections for the State of Iowa. Kline was succeeded by Riley Dirksen, who ran unopposed for the position in a special election. However, Dirksen resigned in August to redirect attention toward his video game development business.

Since then, Cerro Gordo County Treasurer Patricia Wright has managed the office as interim auditor.

The new full-time auditor will be chosen in the upcoming election and there are no shortage of willing volunteers. Six candidates have filed to be on the ballot for the election. Don O’Connor, Adam Wedmore, Tina Cullinan, Louie Bram, Thomas Shovein, and Dan Henaman have all thrown their names into the hat to fill the vacancy. Wedmore is running as the Democratic Party candidate; O’Connor is running as the Republican Party candidate; and while the remaining four candidates filed as Independent, election law mandates only one person can be listed as part of the Independent Party. Thus, Cullinan is on the ballot as the Independent Party candidate while Bram, Henaman, and Shovein are unaffiliated.

With such a large field, we’ve reached out to all six candidates to give them an opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions about their goals as auditor.

Cullinan did not return answers to the questions.

Louie Bram

My name is Louie Bram. I was born in Mason City in 1974, and graduated from Rockwell-Swaledale High School in 1992. After high school I attended and graduated from Northwestern College, and then went to graduate school at the University of South Dakota. My wife, Christy, and I have three children and live on an acreage south of Mason City. I have worked and lived in Cerro Gordo County for most of my life. For the past 11 years I have had the privilege to serve you as a Deputy Sheriff for the county. On Nov. 6,  I am asking for your vote as Cerro Gordo County Auditor.

What experience/skills do you have that make you the right person for the job?

As a Deputy Sheriff I took an oath to uphold the rule of law as defined by the Constitution of the United States and the Code of Iowa. I am expected to do so without political, racial, or economic bias. These same laws govern the position of County Auditor, a position that must be held by a person only concerned with accuracy and fairness for the sake of the public good.

While working as a Deputy Sheriff, I also served as a school board member of the North Iowa Christian School for eight years, dealing with budget issues, payroll, and other administrative duties. Prior to that I was Pastor of the Rockwell Baptist Church from 1998-2007, and as such oversaw church budget issues, managed committees, and provided for the spiritual care of the members of the body of Christ. By God’s grace, I have had many opportunities to serve others in both administrative and managerial roles.

As auditor, how would you work with other county offices?

My current position in the Sheriff’s Office has provided me an intimate knowledge of our current county government situation. I know and have worked personally with many of our local elected officials and public servants. The Board of Supervisors, the County Engineers, and those working in the Recorder’s office, the Treasurer’s office, the County Attorney’s office know me personally and trust my judgment. For over a decade I have worked closely with all of these various branches of county government and would continue that healthy relationship.

What goals do you hope to achieve as auditor?

The Cerro Gordo County Auditor’s Office, as presently constructed, has in place nine very talented staff members with decades of experience. For the last 20 years it has been a model of consistency and fairness. What our county needs presently is a humble and teachable leader who also possesses the requisite people and leadership skills to continue to fairly and kindly manage the office. He must also be a person the public trusts to uphold the duties of the office as they are defined by Iowa Law. I believe the managerial and personal skills I have developed as a Deputy Sheriff, as well as my years as a pastor, have prepared me for this office.

Dan Henaman

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a 42-year-old married accountant and father of two, an adult son and a new daughter. I am the second oldest of four children. I grew up working on small farms and attended public schools. I have lived in Iowa my whole life, most in north central Iowa. I am a non-traditional student, I went to college at UNI at the age of 30. After graduating I accepted a position with the Office of Auditor of State where I served the taxpayers of Iowa for four and half years. I have been in public accounting six years. I live and work in Mason City.

What experience/skills do you have that make you the right person for the job?

I am fortunate to have had experience working with county budgets, reporting requirements, internal controls and audit reports. I have experience specific to local county government, with various IT systems and experience with the Code of Iowa. I am also fortunate to have had the opportunity to have worked with various Iowa State Departments. I have an eye for detail and a curiosity for things that don’t add up.

As auditor, how would you work with other county offices?

I want to encourage ideas and implementation of increased interdepartmental communication and ways to address our community’s needs. I want to do what I can from a budgetary/ fiscal stand point to provide our county departments with the resources required to continue to provide the essential services we rely on.

What goals do you hope to achieve as auditor?

I would like to help facilitate timely voter education within our county through the cooperation of our local media outlets and our schools. If elected Count Auditor, I hope to achieve a cohesive spirit of cooperation within our electorate that benefits our county as a whole.

Don O’Connor

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Don O’Connor, a life long resident of Cerro Gordo County. I was born in Mason City the oldest of four kids to Jerry and Maxine O’Connor. I grew up on a farm in eastern Cerro Gordo County. I left the farm and moved to Mason City starting my career with Hy-Vee Food store where I spent eight years. For the last 33 years I have been in the automobile business managing local businesses here in North Iowa. I am married to my wife, Carol, have two grown children both married, and four grandsons one of which we have raised, Ryan, who is a junior at Mason City High School. Please visit my web site at www.voteoconnor.com.

What experience/skills do you have that make you the right person for the job?

I have spent over 30 years operating for profit private businesses here in north Iowa, I have worked with budgets, forecasting, financial statements and people. My working experience for these past 30 years makes me very qualified to perform the job of Auditor. My people skills from my time at Hy-Vee and the last 33 years in the automobile business pretty much demonstrate my ability to interact with others positively as I have only spent my entire career serving the needs of others.

As auditor, how would you work with other county offices?

The position of Auditor will require that you have daily interaction with every department in the county and most other entities throughout Cerro Gordo County. I see that as a strength and very much look forward to helping everyone with their needs and questions as Auditor. This is what my professional career has been built on and will take my ability and skills learned to the Auditors office to continue providing others by answering their questions and assisting with their needs as they come up.

What goals do you hope to achieve as auditor?

I was asked early on what I would change if elected and my answer was clear, you do not change anything, just don’t go in and don’t screw it up. The Auditor office runs very well and congratulations to Ken Kline who held the office for 25 years and did an exceptional job. As I have visited these past months with the residents I became aware very early that no one really knows what the Auditor does and this means the office is doing its job for the residents of Cerro Gordo County. The next auditor needs to go in and learn, listen and provide leadership to all involved. I learned early on in my career that your staffs are your strongest assets and if you take care of them they will take care of you, a strong leader is only as good as the staff assisting them. I hope to be able to continue the great work that is being provided in the office already and look to the changes coming down the road as we all do realize change is inevitable and needs to be embraced by everyone and applied to benefit us all.

Thomas Shovein

Who are you and what do you do?

Thomas Shovein. I am a Mason City native. I am currently serving the county as Deputy Treasurer for Cerro Gordo County.

What experience/skills do you have that make you the right person for the job?

I have worked for the courthouse for two and one-half years as a Deputy Treasurer managing and supervising staff. I have experience working in the courthouse financial and records systems between the departments. I also have had the ability to assist the Auditor’s office with many of their tax and election duties. No other candidate has this direct experience.

As auditor, how would you work with other county offices?

I have experience working alongside our other county offices. We have been building on a more assistive environment between the offices and training staff to be able to assist other offices. Our goal is to keep wait times low when coming into our offices. I would keep working alongside our other county officials to continue this positive relationship and building this working relationship.

What goals do you hope to achieve as auditor?

I would like to be proactive in legislation changes in the state to maintain the best for Cerro Gordo County. Our government is always changing and having experience in our local government I have a better mind for what we need in our county.

Adam Wedmore

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a life-long resident of Rockwell where my wife, Kristen, and I raise our three children. My background is in emergency services where I’ve worked and volunteered as a paramedic, firefighter, and reserve deputy for several departments. I currently serve as the Fire/EMS Program Manager at NIACC where I coordinate firefighting, EMS, hazardous materials, nursing, and physician continuing education classes for 18 counties across North Iowa.

I’ve always been active in the community and am currently serving my third term on the Rockwell City Council as well as serving on numerous boards and commissions throughout the county and state. I’ve volunteered as a Paramedic/Service Director for Rockwell-Swaledale EMS since 2003, Assistant Chief with Swaledale Fire Department since 2003, and as a Captain with Rockwell Fire Department since 2003. Prior to my time at NIACC I worked at the Mason City Fire Department for seven years as well as flew part time with Mercy Air Life as a Flight Paramedic.  While raising a family and becoming more involved in the administration role I realized the value of learning and decided to continue my education. I’m proud to say I choose NIACC first where I earned an AA degree and continued on to earn a BS degree from Waldorf and completed a Master’s degree in administration management in 2016.

What experience/skills do you have that make you the right person for the job?

My time spent on City Council, managing organizations, developing budgets, and leading people has helped me develop the skills and experience necessary to serve as Auditor. Nearly every day I’m involved with reviewing, interpreting, and implementing regulations from state code, federal regulations, and third party accreditation agencies which has led to a robust understanding of regulations, laws, ordinances, and rules and how to best implement them. I’ve gained invaluable experience throughout my education as well as through my professional career and feel I’m both qualified and capable to serve the office well.

As auditor, how would you work with other county offices?

The Auditor serves as a central point for county government operations and require someone who can work well between offices as well as with employees, elected officials, and the public. My time serving as an elected official, having supervised employees, and working with organizations has helped me develop the relationships, skills, and ability to accomplish goals which often takes teamwork and collaboration. I’ve had the pleasure to work will all of the county offices over many years in many capacities. Because of the many hats I’ve worn I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Treasurer, Recorder, Supervisor, Sheriff, Assessor, Conservation, Emergency Management, Engineer, and Public Health departments in numerous capacities over the past several years. The familiarity I have from my interaction with these departments I see as a valuable tool to help build on the work already done and lead to great work in the future.

What goals do you hope to achieve as auditor?

My goal as Auditor is to fulfill the duties of the office in the most efficient and effective way possible. The duties of the office are essential to county operations and failure to carry them out could lead to severe impacts on county residents, voters, government entities, and county employees. It would be my goal to ensure the office continued to fulfill the duties entrusted to it and work for each and every citizen across the county.  I have a great admiration for our county and residents and I want to ensure we continue to have a bright future. I encourage the voters to reach out with questions, share their ideas, and ask for their support to ensure the Auditor’s Office has the leadership, experience, and dedication essential to its success.

 

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