Four years ago, Rob Chase was a write-in candidate who finished second in the primary and then knocked off incumbent Spokane County Treasurer Skip Chilberg in the fall. Now, it’s Chase who is being pursued, and his challengers are both better qualified for the position.
Oddly, treasurer is a partisan position, though all of the candidates agree it should not be treated that way.
Chase’s opponents, Mary Kuney, a Republican, and Amy Biviano, a Democrat, are certified public accountants who say that Chase doesn’t have the basic qualifications. If it weren’t an elected office, their financial expertise certainly would put their job applications ahead of his.
Before being elected, Chase ran unsuccessful campaigns for Congress and the state Legislature as a Libertarian. He attends political rallies, such as a February event for the misguided group Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution. His passion would seem to be politics more than financial administration, and his inclination to act independently has created some friction in the courthouse.
His most notable act was a free-lance lobbying effort for a change in state law that allowed people behind on their property taxes to make partial payments. We supported that effort. But his opponents say Chase should have consulted with other officials and other jurisdictions like school districts rather than go it alone. Those are the officials who must base their budgets on presumed property tax collections.
Kuney has extensive financial experience, working for the state auditor’s office — she has audited Spokane County — and for private firms. She’s served as the chair of the city of Spokane’s internal audit committee and is the current treasurer and finance chair of the Hutton Settlement Board. She also co-owned Summit Tea and then sold her interest to her co-founder. Her top goal for the office is to improve communication with other officials, such as the county auditor, school superintendents and county commissioners. She has been endorsed by all three commissioners. She would not seek repeal of the partial payment law.
Biviano also is touting her professional accounting experience. She is a self-employed CPA and earned a master’s of business administration at Gonzaga University. She has broad experience on nonprofit boards and advisory committees. In her last run for office, she lost a legislative contest to Rep. Matt Shea. She’s in a tough district for a Democrat and says the Treasurer’s Office would be her ultimate public service prize.
Biviano believes the office should be more active in seeking ways to help the community. For instance, Chilberg made a bridge loan to the Riverside School District that sustained it through tough times. She says Chase doesn’t have the expertise to see those opportunities.
The easy call for voters is to pick a financial professional. The tougher choice is which one. Kuney has greater government accounting experience and has the right temperament. She’s our pick.