By Paul Gable
Filing for elective office in the county is one week away which will begin what can only be called the “silly season” when facts are few and far between.
However, in one race, the one for a new county Auditor, “silly season” began last August when local CPA Clark Parker announced his candidacy for the position of Auditor and his various pronouncements and posts since.
When Parker announced his campaign last August, he said he could “contribute a lot to the needs of the county” and that “it is important that we collect all our taxes that are due to the county.”
Shortly after his announcement, local media reported Parker was delinquent in paying personal property taxes for tax years 2012, 2017 and 2018. Those delinquent taxes were paid by Parker after the information became public.
Parker was reportedly taking campaign advice from a group of advisors. One or more of those convinced Parker to begin placing campaign yard signs. County ordinance forbids such campaign signs from being placed until 45 days before election voting. Election voting for the Republican primary is June 9, 2020. Signs cannot be placed until near the end of next month, but Parkers were out last fall.
A Facebook post encouraged supporters to take a picture with one of the signs. The best picture was supposed to be rewarded with free dinner for two at Rioz Brazilian steakhouse.
One of Parker’s campaign operatives, Johnny Fryar, was a guest on Talking Politics, hosted by John Bonsignor and myself. I notified Fryar of the illegal timing of the signs. He tried to argue the point with no knowledge of the ordinance. Sometime after the show, the campaign signs were removed.
Since that time, other Facebook posts on Parker’s campaign page have called him the “technology candidate” even though he does not understand what technology the county has and does not understand that county technology is not controlled by the Auditor.
He has also called himself the “2nd Amendment candidate” although I haven’t the slightest clue what the right to bear arms has to do with an office that prepares tax bills for the county. Nor does Parker.
This is a campaign with no message other than throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks with voters.
Recently multiple sources reported that Parker was hospitalized for medical reasons. A recently returned Parker said he was continuing with his campaign.
After intending to run for another term, current Auditor Lois Eargle recently announced she wouldn’t seek reelection after being hospitalized and undergoing surgery.
Being a candidate with recent medical issues, I would submit Parker has a responsibility to make a full reporting to the voters, by press conference or press release, of what those medical issues are and if they will be a problem in the future.
The Auditor should not be a high profile, headline grabbing politician. The Auditor’s Office is the middle part of a three part tax assessment and collection process. The Auditor must be able to work effectively with the Assessor’s Office, which determines the taxable value of property and the Treasurer’s Office, which collects the taxes.
The process begins only after county council approves a budget, which sets the amount of revenue the county needs and how that revenue will be spent to provide goods and services to the citizens.
The current Deputy Treasurer, R. A. Johnson, has already announced he will be a candidate for Auditor.
Johnson is certainly a candidate who understands and is intimately familiar with the assessment and collection process and could seamlessly fit into the position of Auditor now. Johnson is certainly a strong candidate to oppose and maybe that is why the Parker campaign has demonstrated such silliness even before filing has begun.
The words of Scottish National poet Rabbie Burns come to mind to describe the Parker campaign to date, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft a-gley.”