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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Janke Files Petition for Auditor; Gust Files Petition and Website!

Lake County Auditor Kay Schmidt announced her retirement this week, saying 24 years running our elections was plenty.

I figured someone in her office would apply for promotion, as she did back in 1986. Sure enough, deputy auditor Bobbi Janke has filed a petition to run for the office. But so has Shelli Gust, wife of intrepid conservation officer Brandon Gust.

Now Janke has the apparent advantage. She's worked in the courthouse for 22 years. Gust moved to Madison in 2006, and as my wife will attest, it takes a long time for Madison folk to stop referring to you as a new girl. She has worked in the courthouse (or at least the Public Safety building next door) for just three years as legal assistant to the State's Attorney.

But Gust gets my attention talking Web and by using Web. She sends out a press release by e-mail to announce her candidacy and her campaign website. She has a website. She also makes government openness, online and off, a priority:

I know there are many ways that I can help make the Auditor's Office more accessible and open to the citizens of Lake County. Outside of performing the day to day duties of the County Auditor, I would like to further develop the Auditor's website and make it a resource for the citizens of Lake County to obtain information. I would like to see the County Commission Agendas, County Ordinances, and other public records of interest be made available online.

Oh yeah! Those are the magic words! I've been grumbling about the barely functional Lake County website for years. Our local paper and radio station do an o.k. job of reporting what the commission is up to, but putting agendae and minutes online, as the City of Madison does, would be a great step forward in letting us check the record ourselves. Putting ordinances and election information online would also be a plus. And when I say "election information," I don't mean a paltry three temporary lines line Madison Central gets press for; I mean election results and historical archives. Perhaps Gust can promote a local version of the rock-'em-sock-'em website our Secretary of State offers to help us keep track of elections.

Of course, maybe Janke can, too. We have eight months to talk plans and qualifications. But with her website and e-mail announcement, Gust shows me she's ready to launch some county Web innovation on Day 1.

By the way, Gust is a Republican. Janke is a Democrat.

Openness is what the auditor's office is all about. The Web is the perfect venue to promote 24-7 openness. I hope we'll hear a lot about that from both candidates.

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