By Garrett Estrada, Eureka Sentinel Staff Writer
Current State Controller and candidate for State Treasurer Kim Wallin spoke with the Sentinel recently to answer some questions about why she is running for Treasurer and why people should pay attention to the race.
Q: What made you want to run for the State Treasurer position?
A: One of the reasons I’m running is because we need to replace our statewide accounting system. I want to make sure we do it right. You’ve read about all the IT projects the state and local governments do and how they spend millions of dollars on them and yet when they get done they don’t work, I want to make sure that this gets done right. The other thing is, having been the State Controller for the past seven and a half years, I have an intimate understanding of what the Treasurer’s office does, because the two offices work hand in hand together. I’m the first CPA to be elected as Controller in the past 50 years and I’m also the first certified managed accountant to be elected Controller.
Q: What are some of the things you are trying to accomplish on your current trip through rural Nevada?
A: I met with the County Treasurer in Eureka, just to find out what their concerns were and how the State Treasurer’s office can work with them to help make their job bother easier and more efficient. As it turns out, they were having a particular issue with tracking down where some forms were supposed to go so I contacted my office and got them an answer really quickly. In White Pine, the County Treasurer needed to find out the fiscal year for some data, so we got that fixed. There are other areas that I think we can work with them as well as educate some of the newer Treasurers about programs the state offers to the counties. We are all treasurers so I want to pool resources and help them out.
Q: There is usually a tendency to focus on local elections over statewide ones, and even then, races for positions like State Treasurer might not receive a lot of attention. In your opinion, why would you tell people to watch the race for Treasurer?
A: I wish that people would pay more attention to what we call the “down-ballot” races. Most people tend to focus on the Governor or the Lt. Governor, but when you get down to the Controller or Treasurer, most people don’t do their homework and vote for the most qualified candidate. I’ll give you an example. In the 2000 election, Kathy Augustine was running for Controller against a gal who was a CPA, who had worked in the Controller’s office for several years at a number two position and knew a lot about the office. Despite that, Kathy, who had no experience at all in the position, beat her. If people would have done their homework, they might have voted differently. A lot of times for these positions on the ballot, people tend to vote along party line or they just don’t vote at all. If you are doing your job right as the Controller or Treasurer, it is not a partisan position at all. The numbers are the numbers. It should be about qualifications.
Q: For those that might not know, what were you responsible for as the State Controller and what did you accomplish in the position over the past seven years?
A: The Controller is responsible for paying the bills and collecting all debts owed to the state. When I started in the office, we were only collecting about four percent of the debts owed to us, but I got that number up to 28 percent. That’s huge because that money goes toward our much-needed programs. The other thing as Controller that I did was eliminating waste and inefficiency. I would ask my staff to ask themselves why they were doing a job a certain way. If the answer is “well that’s the way we’ve always done it,” then we would look for a better way. For example, and this is just a simple one, but we are responsible for reissuing stale or lost checks. The office would print out 12 pieces of paper to reissue a check and so I said, “why do we do that?” I didn’t see why we needed that all that paper and so we looked into switching to electronic approvals and now we don’t print that paper anymore, which saves money.