MARTINEZ -- Robert Campbell, an incumbent with a solid record overseeing improving county finances, will face challenger Ayore Riaunda, a county accountant, for the office of Contra Costa County Auditor-Controller June 3.
Riaunda, who has worked for the Health Services Department for 17 years, says he thinks he could do even better than Campbell, especially when it comes to disseminating information to the public, and in particular where its property tax dollars go.
The auditor-controller is the county's chief accounting officer. The office's primary mission is to ensure the fiscal integrity of the county's financial records and to assist and inform the public. The position manages the countywide financial system and processes fiscal information for county departments, special districts and other non-county agencies. The auditor-controller also builds the county's tax roll and accounts for property tax apportionments and assessments throughout the county.
The office has a staff of 50 and a projected budget of $8.84 million in the next fiscal year.
Campbell, 47, of Concord, has worked 26 years in the auditor-controller's office, the last four at the helm, and holds leadership posts in various statewide professional organizations and panels. During Campbell's tenure in the top post, the county has regained a Triple-A credit rating from Standard & Poor's.
In a candidate statement, Campbell takes credit for recommending and building strong financial reserves, balancing his agency's budget and preparing annual financial reports that have received awards for excellence from professional organizations.
"I think I've done a good job in my four years in office, in providing financial oversight for the assets of the county," Campbell said in response to the question why voters should re-elect him. "I think I've been responsive to the other departments, to the board of supervisors and, most importantly, to the taxpayers of the county."
Riaunda, 50, of Oakley, sees the office of auditor-controller as a platform for change. He wants lower tax rates, relief to deserving families and individuals, a more robust social safety net, more efficient county services and better labor relations and working conditions -- even as he acknowledges that these are policy issues that lie outside the immediate scope of the office he seeks. But as auditor-controller, he said, "I can have influence, do more analysis and provide an adviser's role."
Riaunda said he is running "because I want to give the voters a choice."
If elected, Riaunda said he would set up an online reference for property owners to see how their property tax payments are allocated at the click of a mouse once they plug in their street address.
Campbell said the county website provides a general summary of the distribution of property tax to various agencies on a countywide basis, but the numbers get tweaked in the course of the year.
"There are a number of transactions that we have to do after that pie chart is put together," he said.
Riaunda said Campbell is receptive to his idea; Campbell qualified that notion somewhat.
"If the public requests that information, at that point we could make what information we have available to them," Campbell said.
As of Monday, Riaunda's campaign had raised just over $7,100, most of it loaned by himself. Campbell, whose campaign treasurer is retired Auditor-Controller Steve Ybarra, had raised about $22,000, including a loan of about $20,000 from himself.
Neither candidate had any immediate plans for campaign events. Both have put up signs in public areas. Riaunda said he does the rounds of government meetings and other public meetings to get his message out.
"I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I have a chance," Riaunda said.
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.
Name: Robert Campbell
Job: Contra Costa County Auditor-Controller
Education: B.S in Business Administration from Cal State Hayward
Name: Ayore Riaunda
Job: Accountant with Contra Costa County Health Services Department; U.S. Navy Reservist
Education: Master of Business Administration, Montclair State University, New Jersey; Certified Government Financial Manager