Auditor-controller says she will run again

Rebecca Callen

Rebecca Callen has filed papers in an attempt to return as the elected officer of fiscal operations, two month after she opted to not run for re-election as the Calaveras County auditor-controller.

Callen credited a public outcry heard after her decision to leave county government was announced, as well as sentiments among officials to work collaboratively with her office as reasons why she changed her mind, she said over the telephone.

“Those things have been in the works for the last month; (they) are making me want to run again,” said Callen, who confirmed Dec. 29 she will run again. “Hopefully we’ll be able to run a good campaign and come out ahead on the other end come June.”

She said the administrative office has been working with her on “several” policies and procedures. Officials are talking budget and procedural changes throughout the county. In all, she said administration is making “a better attempt at working with her office across the board.”

Discussing support from outside the Government Center where she works, she said “hundreds” of people urged her to return to office. There were people at the grocery store, post office and other locations around Calaveras who spoke with her, her husband, family and friends expressing hope for her to return, she said.

“I made the decision not to run in July. I just did not announce it until October,” Callen said. “Probably in the last month, it has been very vocal. A lot of this has been happening in the background that most people probably don’t see.”

Her remarks represented a change of heart from an October stance that pointed at county leadership as the reason why she did not want to return to the office she has held for eight years. In an emailed statement she said the county was headed in a direction she did not want to be part of. In an interview later, she said she felt the auditor-controller’s office was neglected support for much of the past two years, but she did not rule out having a change of heart if major steps toward “civility and unification” were made. She declined to identify instances in October why she felt a lack of support for her work.

In August, Callen alleged that Sheriff Rick DiBasilio and his office had misspent funds that were earmarked for cannabis-related causes.

DiBasilio denied the allegations, calling the situation a difference of opinion.

Later, Calaveras County Administrative Officer Tim Lutz issued a statement that said the county believed the cannabis regulatory fee fund was properly used to fund program costs.

Callen said at the time that the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office could have misspent up to $120,000 in fees for programs outside of what was allowed. She said the Sheriff’s Office spent money on criminal investigations, booking of suspects and paying hours for dispatch and bailiffs instead of for purposes related to enforcing the cannabis urgency ordinance.

Later the same month, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors approved a budget adjustment from the county’s General Fund to close the books on the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Challengers for the auditor-controller position need to meet requirements for the position after the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution in 2017. Previously, anyone with any skillset could run for the office.

Per the qualifications approved in November, candidates must either have been certified by the California Board of Accountancy, have an accounting degree from a legitimate institution plus five years of fiscal management experience with similar responsibilities for a consecutive period of at least three years, have a professional internal auditor certificate from the Institute of Internal Auditors and at least 16 college semester units in anything accounting related, or have served in any auditor position for more than three years to run for the position here.

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