Official Response from Cindy Gobel on the October 30th, 2019 HeraldNet Article
It appears that my opponent and his supporters have chosen to attack my qualifications instead of addressing actual campaign issues. The Herald writer neglected to mention my budget and management experience as the Communications Manager for UW Police, that I did have hiring and firing oversight of seasonal employees during my employment at the Auditor’s office, and that I assisted with payroll and budget compliance. I have posted my answer to each question on my website if you would like to see my submitted responses.
I left the Snohomish County Auditor’s office because Auditor Weikel and I had differences of opinion. I disagreed with her continued non-compliance of election law, I was disappointed with her support of the current election manager during a labor grievance for skimming, and I was unable to continue being her public cheerleader after staff were told to change their attitude because ongoing office issues weren’t responsible for low employee morale.
I was surprised to see my leadership questioned. I was a leader in the office, just not the type management wanted. I was the shop steward, a union contract negotiator, and well liked by employees and customers alike. This is demonstrated by my endorsements from the staff union, previous employees, and a recommended vote from the Tulalip Tribes. I just wasn’t the type of leader that management valued because my integrity and values were unwavering when it came to legal compliance and customer service. I see this as a strength.
Yes, both candidates have management experience to include budgets, hiring and firing, and experience in Recording and Elections.
I am the only candidate that has experience in Licensing, Recording, Elections, and Animal Control Services. I have experience working in these fields, experience with the applicable laws, experience in leadership roles representing these departments. I take pride in the work I’ve done and look forward to continuing my service as your future Auditor.
Questions provided by Noah Haglund and answered by Cindy Gobel
1. Should Garth Fell have recused himself from this general election because he’s running in it?
Anyone working in elections should recuse themselves from all election functions that involve or affect the election process in which they are a candidate. This includes access the databases, processes, and oversight of any department functions that directly interact with the process of voting. One candidate should not have access to information above what any other candidate would during the election. Election ethics and standards of conduct are important to uphold in order to ensure transparent outcomes. I recused myself in January 2019 right before filing with the PDC. Election administrators know when to recuse themselves from the process. Was it your article that stated he was waiting for someone to tell him when to recuse himself?
2. It sounds like your campaign, in large part, is about bringing new outside from outside Snohomish County to the auditor’s office. What specific changes would you consider given your experience with the Secretary of State’s Office or elsewhere?
I am a strong supporter of increasing our community involvement through various outlets. Organizations are using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram for outreach and interacting with many people. We have so many organizations in Snohomish County that we could be collaborating with such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Tulalip Youth Council to name a few. We need to be generating programs and opportunities for our youth to be interacting with the office in a manner that provides them with the skills and knowledge to help shape the future they envision. We have certain groups that are underrepresented in the voting process so we should start contacting them through agencies that provide services or areas those communities meet to share information. I believe that leadership needs to demonstrate that each person’s input is valued and the only way to do that is to provide equal opportunity.
3. How would you improve voter turnout in Snohomish County? Isn’t low turnout a national problem? Why is Snohomish County any different?
Snohomish County residents deserve leadership that supports equal access to voting rights and demonstrates a commitment to community engagement. There are three issues that could be addressed immediately to increase participation:
Finally implementing state law regarding ballot box installation is one example of current inequality. Why did the urban ballot boxes get installed prior to the rural boxes? Why haven’t all the boxes been installed over the last three years when my opponent stated the funding and materials were available years ago? Ensuring ballot delivery on Election night, after the post office has closed, via a secure ballot box should be an equal priority in the county.
Another issue is disability access review and yearly meetings that should be held to review accessibility plans. During the decade I worked in the office management repeatedly stated they did not have time or anyone interested in the issue to participate in these meetings. During this same time period the Governor’s Committee on Disability provided grants to counties that sought to engage this community group and provided funding for outreach services. Accessibility should always be a priority, yet I have not seen any actions to demonstrate that this issue has been addressed. There are so many community service agencies, state and local, that would love to participate in these discussions. There are so many community members that have tried to participate only to discover that meetings haven’t been scheduled. Its time we demonstrate our commitment to all accessible voting principles.
#FutureVoters is another area where we need to increase our participation. Yes, we participate in one high school event each year. But we need to be engaging all high schoolers. Leadership needs an active presence in the schools – providing presentations, events, activities. We used to do this over a decade ago with art contests and voting machines used for voting on student council positions. Those programs ceased and were faded out over time. I want to implement programs such as state-wide mock elections, activities related to OSPI mandates, and civic engagement opportunities such as video and art contests, internships and volunteer opportunities that provide knowledge and skill growth for our youth.
4. Your opponent challenged you at a public forum when you said you had experience in all four divisions of the auditor’s office. You appeared to backtrack and clarify your response. Can you clarify what experience you have overseeing areas such as animal control, recording and licensing?
To correct you, I stated I have experience in all four divisions of the Auditor’s office. I believe you are adding “overseeing” incorrectly here? At no point do I remember used the term “overseeing” in regards to my experience.
5. More to the point, supporters of your opponent have accused you of exaggerating your experience. For example, they say you never had any budgetary responsibility at the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office and that your experience in Snohomish County was limited to the elections division. How would you respond?
This is the first time I’m hearing of this. As the Lead, and at times Acting Supervisor, I was responsible for hiring and firing of staff in the Elections division as well as working within the seasonal budget allowance per election. I also completed payroll for staff in three divisions when management was absent from the office. Let’s not forget my budget oversight as the Communications Manager in my previous employment.
I was hired into the Elections division, but the office has always maintained a team atmosphere where each division helps out the others to ensure that excellent customer service is always provided. I can remember when first starting that each week all the divisions would help recording with packet mailing, and staff from each division often help with customer service duties if one division is short-handed. The Elections division was especially helpful because we were the one division open during the lunch hour (until this last year). I helped people find licensing sub-agents or answered car tab questions, helped people look up recorded documents or provided the recording requirements. I even took statements for Animal Services and provided contact assistance when officers weren’t available. My responsibilities in law enforcement, the Auditor’s office, and Secretary of State’s office all used the same databases, RCW and WAC foundation, customer service expectations, and level of integrity regarding legal compliance. In law enforcement I also worked with dispatching of officers (to include animal control officers), ongoing training for staff on use of the licensing database, and records generation, proofing, and recording. It should be noted that I also have extensive community involvement which also develops knowledge and experience.
6.Isn’t your mailer claiming “25 years of experience in all four divisions of the auditor’s office” patently false? The same mailer indicates you worked at the auditor’s office for 12 years.
I have been consistently clear about my 25 years of experience. I have 11 years of experience in law enforcement, 12 years in the Auditor’s office, and 2 years at the Secretary of State’s office. My responsibilities in law enforcement, the Auditor’s office, and the Secretary of State’s office all used the same databases, RCW and WAC foundation, customer service expectations, and level of integrity regarding legal compliance. It should be noted that I also have extensive community involvement which also develops knowledge and experience. If I was to add my years of community experience to that total the number would’ve been even higher.
7. Are you still a Democratic Party PCO?
I personally am a Democrat, and have been a PCO for over a decade. But you should know that the position is non-partisan, which means decisions are made based on law. I have that degree!
I have 14 years of working at the county and state level in a non-partisan position with all parties in WA. My current boss Secretary of State Kim Wyman has an excellent podcast that talks about the balance of partisanship in a non-partisan position:
This podcast mirrors the level of integrity that I also bring as a candidate. While we all have political beliefs, I hope that in the future more leaders see that transparency means on a personal level as well.
Please let me know if you intend to use partial quotes from my answers as I would like the readership to know if they are not hearing my full answers.