Q&A: Write-in candidates for treasurer

  • Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012 11:43 p.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, October 14, 2012 9:04 a.m.

John Cagle

Occupation: Retired with approximately 30 years of commercial banking experience, had a independent business for 10 years, as well as licensed as real estate broker.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial management, minor in accounting from Clemson University, master’s degree in banking and finance from Louisiana State University

Church/civic organizations: Member of Aiken’s First Baptist Church, ordained deacon and Sunday school teacher, treasurer of the Fox Chase Homeowners Association

Why are you running for this seat?: “I’ve lived in Aiken for over 30 years and I’m very civic and community-minded. This is an opportunity to give back to the community I love. I raised my family here.”

What would you bring to the position?: “I speak from a strong financial background and have a proven track record of success.”

Why should people vote for you?: “I am not a professional politician. I am a professional businessman with many years of financial experience. I have conservative business principles. I have the experience, the qualifications and the skills needed for this position.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “I can see both sides of the argument but, as a candidate for treasurer, I hope the form of government stays the same. I think the voters need to decide whether or not they want to give up their right to elect their officials or either allow them to be taken over by the county administrator.” (Editor’s note: Voters will choose in November whether to change the form of County government from Council-Administrator to Council-Manager. Under the Council-Manager form, the auditor and treasurer would no longer be elected, but appointed.)

Debra Folk

Occupation: Aiken County Judicial Technology Specialist

Education: Phillips College, associate’s degree in data processing/systems analysis

Church/civic organizations: United Way Care Council

Why are you running for the seat?: “I am running for the treasurer’s position because I feel my technical background and many years of management experience would be an asset to this position.”

What would you bring to the position?: “I have served Aiken County for over 27 years. This type of work experience cannot be gained through a college class or from any other work environment. My IT background has given me the opportunity to work with all departments in the county.” Folk has also worked in Aiken County’s Data Processing Division, handling financial reports, payroll budget, and retiree calculations, and also with E-911 and GIS. “Currently, I offer support to the Summary and Circuit Court offices. I assist the offices with determining solutions to problems that include disbursements of fines and fees, daily balancing and balancing at month-end.”

Why should people vote for you?: “I am an experienced, dedicated, hard-working employee that is not pursuing this position just for the title. I want to look for opportunities to make changes that would benefit the staff and taxpayers of Aiken County.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “I would like to have a better understanding of the issues and reasons for Council wanting this change. I did not find anything in the annual audit report that would indicate a problem that could not be handled by funding for software improvements and the need to implement software solutions for additional financial tracking.”

Jason Goings

Occupation: Media specialist/government and economics teacher at Silver Bluff High School, varsity tennis and golf coach

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, master’s degree from University of South Carolina in Columbia

Church/civic organizations: Member of Belvedere First Baptist Church, Beech Island Agriculture Club, Precinct Committeemen for Aiken County Republican Party, board member of Selective Service System since 2005

Why are you running for the seat?: “After the long and protracted ballot controversy and the certification of Republican nominees for all County offices except treasurer, I felt necessary to provide the voters a choice of a dedicated Republican and qualified candidate.”

What would you bring to the position?: “I bring the education and the ability to be an accurate and effective steward of the county’s treasury. I have the needed understanding and skills to effectively invest County funds as defined by law. My educational background has equipped me with the needed skills and base of knowledge to fulfill the duties of the office. I hold a commitment to excellence, accuracy and customer service. I have demonstrated the ability to manage people, build teams and fulfill institutional missions through almost two decades of service to the county. “

Why should people vote for you?: “Because my political beliefs are based on limited government. I will make sure the treasurer’s office is the most efficient and customer friendly office in Aiken County. I will work with the auditor, tax collector and other County officials to be an accurate and effective steward of the taxpayers’ money.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “I understand the reasoning behind the referendum, but I think that it puts too much power in the hands of a few people. I trust the voters to choose their treasurer and auditor.”

Angela Broome Gunter

Occupation: Employed by the Aiken County Finance Department for more than 24 years, certified government finance officer designation obtained from the state through the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina.

Education: Aiken Technical College (magna cum laude) associate’s degree in business, majoring in accounting, associate’s degree in business, majoring in management

Church/civic organizations: Charter and active member of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, where she also served as treasure from 2001 to 2009, active member of the Midland Valley Athletic Booster Club, the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina and the Midland Valley Alumni Association

Why are you running for this seat?: “I am not running against other candidates for the office of Aiken County Treasurer. I am seeking election because I know that I will serve the citizens in all aspects of the position.”

What would you bring to this position?: “I have had the opportunity to work closely with the external auditors since 1988 and am aware and understand the problems with the receipting process. Through my communication skills and knowledge of the finance department, we can work through any issues currently facing the treasurer’s office.”

Why should people vote for you?: “I have always been a service-oriented individual and believe the citizens of Aiken County deserve someone to represent them and serve them with knowledge, honesty and integrity. My demonstrated ability, understanding and knowledge of governmental accounting and management skills will enable me to effectively perform the duties of the office of treasurer.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “In my opinion, whether elected or appointed, the person in this position should do their best at being fiscally responsible over the County treasury.” She later added that either way, it should be the person best for the job for any elected position and that the citizens should have a voice.

Melissa Oremus

Occupation: Co-owner of the Monkey Joe’s location in Augusta and co-owner of the Game Dudes

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration/marketing from USC Aiken, master’s degree in management from Southern Wesleyan University

Church/civic involvements: Member of Cedar Creek Church, member of Mead Hall Board, member of Westminster Schools of Augusta Board

Why are you running for this seat?: Oremus said she “got a little scared at first” when she heard that no one was certified as a candidate for the position. She could not chance having just anyone take the seat when they handle all of Aiken County’s money.

What would you bring to this position?: Oremus has 10 years of experience in banking working as a teller at Regions Bank and as a manager at Carolina First. She said she has experience in handling consumer and business accounts as co-owner of Monkey Joe’s and Game Dudes. “I handle $5 million in assets. I am responsible for making that business successful.”

Why should people vote for you?: “If people believe in you and have faith in the position, anything is possible. This campaign is going to show who wants it, who wants to work the hardest for Aiken County.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “I totally agree with it. You just don’t just put that (the treasurer’s position) in anyone’s hands.”

Robin Saylor

Occupation: Administrative bookkeeper, South Aiken Baptist Christian School and Daycare

Education: Associate’s degree, Shepherd University

Church/civic involvements: Town Creek Baptist Church member, member of Aiken County Republican Party, SCGOP Second Congressional District treasurer

Why are you running?: “When I learned that Linda Sharpe was retiring, I felt a calling to offer my experience, dedication and strong work ethic to the people of Aiken County at this opportunity to serve them. I feel I have the hands-on experience in bookkeeping, the handling of large and small transactions and maintaining multiple bank accounts to do the job.”

What would you bring to the position?: “I bring experience in working with billing, receipts, deposits, budgeting, day-to-day office operations, oversight, installing necessary checks and balances, and the many other duties involved in the smooth running of a busy financial office. I also have a strong understanding of accounts payable and the expense side of business, which will allow me to work more closely with the auditor’s office. I want to improve communication between the treasurer’s office, the auditor’s office, and County Council.”

Why should people vote for you?: “People should vote for the person with the most passion, the right vision, the appropriate skills and experience, the most determination, the utmost commitment to the job at hand, the most trustworthy and the person who wants to do the job right for the right reasons. I believe I am that person.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “While I fully understand the concern for oversight and review, I do not believe in taking the power of choice away from the voters. No one group or agency should hold power over the offices of treasurer or auditor. If the elected person does not perform the duties as the people expect them to, then the people will choose a new treasurer or auditor.”

Ed Smith

Occupation: A master hair care specialist at Tiffany’s for 37 years, served in the U.S. Army for three years.

Education: High school degree

Church/civic organizations: None

Why are you running for the seat?: Smith said he looked at the other candidates running and decided to be a write-in to “spread the field out. This will give me a shot at something different in life. This will be something new I haven’t tried yet. I am running to split things up. If I win, I’ll do the best job I can.”

What will you bring to the position?: “I am going to do the best job I can do. What else can anyone say?” Smith added that there are plenty of qualified people working behind the counter in that department and that the treasurer’s job is pretty much overseeing that department. He is also proposing a 10-hour work day, so staff can get three-day weekends.

Why should people vote for you?: “I am street smart. I know what people like, what they need. I hope people vote for the guy, not the party.” He said he will put a full effort into learning new things. Smith said that he has more than 30 years of business experience and was the treasurer of a bowling league for about four years.

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: He is against changing the form of government, believing the new form of government will lead to the “buddy system.”

Sonya Spray

Occupation: Retired after an almost 20-year career in law enforcement. She also was an instructor at Savannah River College in accounting, business law and American government

Education: Bachelors in psychology from USC Aiken and master’s degree in public administration from Augusta State

Church/civic organizations: None

Why are you running for the seat?: “I’m not a politician. I’m a public servant, and I just want to serve the citizens.”

What would you bring to this position?: “There is not a whole lot of decision making when you’re on the outside looking in until you get in and sit in the office. I think Linda Sharpe has done an excellent job. I’m a quick study, and I’m adaptable.”

Why should people vote for you?: “The duties of treasurer kind of fit me well. I am well-qualified. I still have more to contribute to society. I am honest, dependable, and I care about people’s problems.”

What is your opinion on the proposed change in Aiken County’s form of government?: “I am totally, 100 percent against the change in form of government. When you take any part of the voice away from the people and put it under an un-elected official, you’re asking for trouble.”

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