For the first time in 12 years, an election for Washington County auditor will be contested next year.
Kristine Adams-Wannberg, who currently serves as the county's principal management auditor, announced Monday, Nov. 8, she is seeking to become county auditor.
Adams-Wannberg is challenging her superior in the county auditor's office, current county auditor John Hutzler.
Hutzler was first elected in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2018, after he ran unopposed both years.
Although county auditor elections are sometimes overlooked by voters, the position is crucial for creating accountability within the county government.
The county auditor acts independently from the Board of Commissioners and the county administrator, answering only to Washington County residents. The auditor alone determines what to audit, evaluating whether programs and services accomplish their intended goals, are cost-efficient, and comply with laws and regulations.
In a statement announcing her candidacy, Adams-Wannberg said, "Washington County taxpayers deserve improved transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness from their county government."
Without naming her opponent, she criticized Hutzler's tenure as auditor saying, "It's been too long since Washington County's taxpayers had an effective county auditor in their corner."
Adams-Wannberg said recently produced audits have focused on topics with limited impact, or on follow-up reports for audits conducted years ago.
As county auditor, she said she would expand the range of audits performed and focus on topics she considers higher priorities, including public health and transportation programs and transparency of federal spending.
Adams-Wannberg would seek to modernize the auditor's office and conduct audits of the appropriate size, she continued.
Another priority of hers would be to increase engagement with taxpayers and better listen to the community, Adams-Wannberg said, adding that she would implement a mechanism for the public to submit audit topics year-round.
"The role of our elected auditor is at the core of holding our county government accountable," she said. "The public deserves someone who will work her heart out every day to improve accountability of County government."
Prior to working for Washington County, Adams-Wannberg served for 20 years as a performance auditor and financial analyst for Portland's city government. In that role, she specialized in examining homelessness, public safety, economic development, and equity-related programs, according to her campaign announcement.
Adams-Wannberg currently serves on the audit committees of Hillsboro, Metro and the Oregon Department of Revenue. She previously served on the budget committee of the Hillsboro School District and the audit committee of Portland Community College.
Adams-Wannberg also previously served as president of the Association of Local Government Auditors.
A 25-year resident of Washington County, Adams-Wannberg currently lives in Hillsboro with her husband and three children.
Reached for comment on Adams-Wannberg's announcement and criticism of his record, Hutzler said in a statement, "Since first being elected, I've worked on accountability by following up on every audit recommendation with reports to the public, electeds and administration to ensure implementation.
"Those efforts helped to establish a foundation on which a new county board and a new county administration are now building a more open, equitable, and accountable government," Hutzler continued. "My reports have highlighted major county functions, including affordable housing, sheriff's patrol, health services, the county jail and the animal shelter. They have provided a roadmap that has helped to build the best-functioning county in the region."
He added that he welcomes Adams-Wannberg as an opponent in the race.
The election takes place May 17, 2022.
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