Answers to The News-Gazette's candidate questionnaire fromTED MYHRE, the Republican candidate for Champaign County Treasurer
What prompted you to run for this position, at this time?
My amazing wife prompted me to run for this position. When she became aware of the state of the treasurer’s office, she encouraged me to pursue it. “You can fix that!”, she said. The disposition of the Treasurer’s office over the past two years was on my radar and I wanted to help. It was my wife’s timely nudge that caused me to step forward in order to apply my business administration skills to this office.
My wife also influenced my slogan: “Hire Myhre” because he “#GetsStuffDone." The volunteer firefighter in me is ready to put out the dumpster fire in the current treasurer’s office.
What qualifies you to be the county treasurer?
I am uniquely qualified to resolve the current challenges in the treasurer’s office because of my years of administrative business, technology, and leadership experience through private and public organizations. My ability to use the toolbox of skills as a business process analyst will be an advantage to the treasurer’s office. In fulfillment of the job requirements, I have proven my business acumen through my abilities:
To work with mathematical concepts such as probability and statistical inference.
To solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists.
To read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures, and governmental regulations.
To write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals.
To effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, the general public, and the media.
To manage/coach employees and carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization's policies and applicable laws including interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.
To collaborate with others and work in teams for the advancement of the organization.
Do you have experience working with banks and investing money?
As a business administrator, a director of business operations, an executive director of a not-for-profit organization and as a village trustee, I have had experience dealing with banks, investing money and general cash flow management. My money management experience has resulted from continually being selected for leadership positions through elected, nominated, and hiring processes.
The organizations that I have been instrumental in investing capital have yielded expected or exceptional returns.
Do you have experience dealing with the public and answering thousands of questions from citizens in a given year?
I am no stranger to high-demand business environments in both the public and private sectors. The key to success in the treasurer’s office is developing a practical strategy to address the seasonal high-volume customer demand while maintaining the office’s basic processing operations. I believe in using forward thinking, planning and preparing ahead of time to anticipate the citizens' annual needs in order to address them more efficiently.
Although there are plenty of times when there are one-off situations that need to be individually dealt with, many citizens share similar problems. As an office, we can think through those common issues and prepare resolutions ahead of time creating a better experience for the customer or even eliminating the common problems entirely.
What changes are needed in the treasurer's office?
The most immediate needs in the treasurer’s office are the backlog of data that needs to be processed/resolved and keeping the front desk and phone lines open for direct customer service. Solving the problems in the treasurer’s office are like a mechanic working on a car while the car is moving down the road.
As a former IT professional and business administrator, I am accustomed to maintaining normal business operations while solving large organizational problems. It is my goal to use my University of Illinois-certified business process analyst skills to not only identify systematic problems in the office but also develop creative and functional solutions with the input of the entities that interact with the treasurer’s office.
Should it remain an elected office? Why or why not?
It is my belief that offices like the treasurer, the auditor, and coroner should be “hired” positions. These positions require specific qualifications and experience that simply cannot be thoroughly vetted and researched by the electorate. Ideally, the county board or some other search committee of elected stakeholders would hire the most qualified candidates based on the candidate’s experience, skills, education, work ethic, leadership style, and general ability to get the job accomplished.
If the elected officials did a poor job of selecting candidates or if there was an elected leader accused of corruption, or one of those leaders just did a poor job of operating a professional county government, the voting constituency would still maintain the ability to vote the leadership out of office and replace them with a new set of elected officials who would hire better specialized workers (like treasurer, auditor, coroner, and others). Hiring candidates with the best qualifications eliminates the election of candidates who possess no business operational knowledge.
What can you do to make the treasurer's office more accessible to the public and make county records more transparent?
The key to making the treasurer’s office more accessible and making the county records more transparent is rooted in two areas: customer service and technology. I have lived a lifetime of service to others in various areas, so I am eager to apply that service-focused effort toward the taxpayers, customers and taxing districts in Champaign County.
I plan to be one of the faces at the front desk assisting citizens on the front line. I anticipate many long hours as we unravel and resolve the current challenges in the treasurer’s office but that will not supplant our responsible to tackle customer issues face-to-face. As a former IT professional and business process analyst, I have vast experience dealing with technology issues and creating business systems that operate more efficiently and transparently. Using technology to provide immediate access to reliable records will provide the best visibility into the treasurer’s processes.
Is there anything the treasurer's office can do to make the rest of county government operate more efficiently?
The treasurer’s office is the hub for cash management for county government. Since every entity and individual in the county is affected by the management of the treasurer’s office, it is important for that office to run reliably, accurately, and efficiently. In its current state the treasurer’s office is plunging the county closer toward financial disaster. Once we have reconciled the backlog of receipts and examined the office using an external forensic audit, we can move forward with better business practices.
We will make the office run more efficiently by posting and reconciling our receipts daily through the county’s clearing house so taxpayers can see a transaction record officially completed. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a system that will post and reconcile these transactions in minutes rather than months or days. This action will give the office the ability to stay above the workflow rather than getting lost in a backlog of stale data.