Citizens for a Better Norwood 3

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Guest blog: Steve Thornbury on the Auditor position

Regarding the position of Norwood City Auditor:

During my campaign for Norwood City Council I made the point that communications between citizens and their government need to be improved. Now that I’ve been elected to Council in Ward 2, I’m hoping to make good on that promise by providing a greater level of transparency about what goes on behind the scenes at this level of government.

The first opportunity to do this has presented itself almost immediately with the recent resignation of the Norwood City Auditor. Though I have not seen the letter, my information comes directly from a conversation with Mr. Jones who assured me he presented the letter to the Hamilton County Board of Elections and provided a copy to Norwood City Hall.

The reason I am addressing the situation in this relatively public manner is that, besides being elected to serve on Council for Ward 2, I am also the Chair of the Norwood Republican Party and, as such, will have a role in helping determine who will be appointed to the Auditor’s position.

For those unfamiliar with how such matters are handled, when an elected official such as the Auditor leaves office before the end of their term, it becomes the responsibility of the political party with which the official is associated to appoint a successor. Thus, when Mayor Hochbein resigned several years ago, the Norwood Republican Central Committee (composed of the elected precinct executives) was charged with naming a replacement, just as the Democrats appointed a successor to Mr. DeLuca when he resigned last year.

Some may question the wisdom of discussing this situation so openly. Nothing I am revealing, however, is privileged information. It is all a matter of public record. My intent in posting this blog is, first, to keep the citizens informed of what is happening within their City government. The second reason is to provide an opportunity for anyone who may be interested in filling this position to step forward and make their intentions known.

To be sure, there has already been some discussion within “The Party” about a possible replacement. And while the cynical among us may write-off this effort as meaningless window dressing, I assure you we will talk to any individual who wishes to be considered for the position.

What are the qualifications?
Essentially anyone who is a citizen of Norwood is technically eligible. There may be restrictions on such things as age, criminal record, etc… but nearly anyone can legally hold the position.

Realistically, however, there are certain criteria that we consider to be important when considering a candidate.

The first, of course, is that the individual almost certainly should have some grounding in the area of finance. This can encompass a wide range of individual experience ranging from being a CPA, a financial planner, having worked in the banking business, or having managed the finances of a business or other organization.

Beyond that, however, there are other qualifications we are looking for. It is important, for example, that the individual be able to develop the respect and confidence of those with whom they would be working within the current administration, the newly elected council, and the different city departments.

Since this is an elected position the individual would be expected to demonstrate a degree of “electability.” In Norwood, that is often assumed to simply mean they have a long history in the City with a large network of friends, family, and co-workers who they can count on for support. Certainly those are factors we cannot ignore. However there are many other traits, both tangible and intangible, that add-up to sound “electibility.” Community involvement and election campaign experience are some factors that would be considered.

This brings us to, for many, the touchiest qualification. Whether you agree with our current partisan system or not, the fact remains that, as members of the Norwood Republican Party, we will be looking for someone who will, when the time comes, support the Republican ticket in the next election. Just as the decisions that will be made in the next few weeks on filling positions like Clerk of Council will, no doubt, be made “along partisan lines,” our decision for filling the Auditor’s seat will be motivated to some degree by partisan considerations. This situation is no different for Auditor as it would be for Mayor. Unfortunately, any of the elected positions (Treasurer, Law Director, Auditor, Mayor…) have the potential of being abused by someone who chooses to advance a personal or political agenda over the needs of the City. The trick is finding someone who, while committed to advancing a Republican ticket at the time of an election, will keep the needs of the City of Norwood first and foremost in the execution of their duties.

Having said all that, I would encourage anyone who is interested in being considered for the Auditor’s position to contact me by calling 373-9653 or by contacting any of my fellow Republican party members. Realistically, we will probably spend the rest of this week gathering names of interested parties before conducting interviews in front of the Norwood Republican Central Committee (the precinct executives who will make the ultimate decision). There are also a few questions, such as the length of the term of the appointee, that still need to be answered. Feel free to call me anytime. If I’m unavailable to take your call, leave a message and I will return you call as soon as I am able.

As for responding to comments posted to this blog entry, I reserve the right to reply only to those who are willing to identify themselves with their full name.

I’m sure more than a few people reading this (including several in my own party) are wondering if I am making a huge mistake in discussing this situation so publicly. Again, I stress that nothing I am revealing here is privileged information. Let’s just call it an experiment in modern democracy and leave it at that.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the voters of Ward 2 for their support in last week’s election. I hope that I can live up to your expectations.

Steve Thornbury
Norwood City Council member-elect, Ward 2

11/14/07, 6:00 p.m., ADDENDUM:
If I may...
Since posting this article I have, thankfully, received very positive response to its subject matter. One person who called me, however, was taken aback (to put it mildly) by one part of my post. They felt that, in providing past examples of when both Republican and Democratic central committees have been called upon to name replacements for particular offices, I had done a considerable disservice to a former Mayor by mentioning his resignation, which had been for health reasons, in the same sentence as that of a former Councilperson who had resigned in the wake of being arrested for theft. As I explained to the complainant, it was surely not my intent to draw any parallels between the character of the two individuals or the circumstances for their stepping down. It was merely to illustrate two examples, one from each party, where replacements needed to be named. I hope this lowers at least one person's blood pressure a bit.

-Steve Thornbury