Tuesday, June 7, 2022

It's Dillingham in a Landslide for Auditor-Controller

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2022 at 8:36 PM

click to enlarge Cheryl Dillingham, left, was all smiles during an Election Night gathering in Arcata. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Cheryl Dillingham, left, was all smiles during an Election Night gathering in Arcata.

Challenger Cheryl Dillingham has capped a remarkable night in which she jumped out to a huge lead in the auditor-controller race and simply never looked back, finishing with 70 percent of the vote to embattled incumbent Karen Paz Dominguez’s 23 percent, capturing the most decisive win of the night in the county’s highest profile race.

Challenger Cheryl Dillingham continues to lead by a huge margin in the race for auditor-controller, having taken 70 percent of the 12,916 votes tallied thus far to incumbent Karen Paz Dominguez’s 23 percent.

The third election night report only added about 250 votes to the night’s tally and the race for auditor-controller remains largely unchanged, with challenger Cheryl Dillingham taking 69 percent of the ballots counted thus far and incumbent Karen Paz Dominguez taking 23 percent of the vote with 12,096 ballots counted.

The second election night report doesn’t add many votes to the night’s tally and challenger Cheryl Dillingham remains in control of the auditor-controller race, having taken 70 percent of the 11,587 ballots counted thus far to incumbent Karen Paz Dominguez’s 23 percent.

Challenger Cheryl Dillingham jumped out to a significant early lead, taking 69 percent of the vote over incumbent Karen Paz Dominguez's 23 percent, in the first election night report in the race to become Humboldt County's next auditor-controller.

The report comes with 11,223 ballots counted thus far — all of them consisting of ballots that arrived at the Humboldt County Elections Office prior to Election Day.

The typically sleepy, dry race to become the county's next auditor-controller has been anything but this year. The office is responsible for processing and auditing claims for payment from the county, issuing receipts for all payments received by the county, apportioning and distributing county property tax monies to various outside entities and auditing and issuing the county's payroll, all of which has been thrust into sharp focus in recent years as the office has increasingly become a point of controversy.

Incumbent Paz Dominguez has become one of the most polarizing figures in county politics, repeatedly and loudly alleging the county's financial safeguards are a mess, leaving plentiful opportunities for fraud. But while she has cast herself as a whistleblower and devoted watchdog of taxpayer funds, Paz Dominguez's tenure has been defined by a growing chorus of discord with her office's inability to meet some of its core functions. School districts and other entities have complained about delayed property tax apportionments and deadlines for the filings of state mandated financial records have been missed, putting state and federal funding streams at risk. While Paz Dominguez has charged that short staffing and other county departments' sloppy financial management and unwillingness to get her needed records are largely to blame, other county department heads have said the problems lie squarely with her office.

Dillingham, who spent 30 years in county government, including a decade in the auditor-controller's office, stepped in to challenge Paz Dominguez for the post. Currently working as Rio Dell's finance director, Dillingham has said she feels uniquely qualified for the position — noting she's done much of the work required without issue — and that she decided to enter the race after becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the office.

A third candidate — Public Health Administrative Analyst Mychal Evenson — filed all the paperwork necessary to qualify for the ballot but announced he was dropping out of the race at the county filing deadline, saying Dillingham is a "more qualified" candidate and throwing his support behind her campaign.

Evenson has taken 8 percent of the vote thus far, despite having withdrawn from the race.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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