Retain Aichele: Experience in office gives incumbent the edge

Sunday, June 10, 2018 11:13 PM
Mary Shinn/Durango Herald - La Plata County Treasurer Allison Aichele, right, speaks with Mary Ann McCarthy at Needham Elementary during the Democratic caucuses. Aichele is competing against Business Improvement District director Tim Walsworth in the primary.

The only contested local primary race is one between two candidates who want to be the Democrats’ choice for La Plata County treasurer. Some in the party are championing Tim Walsworth, who has been Durango’s downtown Business Improvement District chief executive for five years. Others support incumbent Allison Aichele.

The winner will face off against Republican Colton Black in November.

Aichele is faulted by some for a brief period when several deposits were inaccurately posted (but not lost), errors which were caught in an audit, and with some vague criticism about being a poor manager.

While the inaccurate posts should not have happened, they came at a time when the office was lacking in talent and technology, according to Aichele.

She claims that when her term began three and a half years ago, she found an office that worked with paper and had no skills cross-training. She has updated critical technology, made sure that everyone knows how to use it, and has improved procedures in place, she says.

All are necessary to record incoming revenues and disbursements for 77 different taxing districts and to maximize the interest that can be earned for the county in the short term.

As to experience, Walsworth points to the accounting and audits he was exposed to in leading the growing local United Way organization for 10 years, and for being responsible for the regular annual BID audits.

He has handled public money – including United Way donations – for 15 years without question, he says.

Although Walsworth has proven himself to successfully work in the community’s best interests – the United Way doubled in size, and downtown business owners are pleased with BID’s supporting work – the Herald’s editorial board favors Aichele with her leadership and experience. She is running an efficient office where electronic tax payments are increasing, bidding on delinquent tax properties occurs online, and inquiries are handled promptly.

Aichele had 20 years in finance in major corporations before becoming treasurer, and she has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA. She is an officer in the state county treasurers’ association.

Walsworth is making a determined run for the treasurer’s office, but we urge Democrats to retain incumbent Allison Aichele in the primary.