First Dem announces auditor run

Pullmanite points to internal process as area for improvement

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First Dem announces auditor run

Eric Fejeren is seeking the county auditor position.

Eric Fejeren is seeking the county auditor position.

RYAN PUGH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Eric Fejeren is seeking the county auditor position.

RYAN PUGH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

RYAN PUGH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Eric Fejeren is seeking the county auditor position.

DAN DOUCET, Evergreen reporter

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The first Democrat has announced his candidacy for the soon-to-be-open Whitman County auditor position.

Eric Fejeran, chair of the Whitman County Democrats, said he thinks there is room for improvement in the auditor’s office. He said the failures they have faced in the past ultimately came down to leadership.

“I have a natural passion for using government positions as a vehicle for positive change,” he said.

The current Whitman County auditor, Eunice Coker, a Republican, is retiring this year after serving in the position for four consecutive four-year terms, leaving the position open for the 2018 election. The office made several election ballot mistakes under Coker in 2015 and 2016, including errors in the final versions, because they were not proofread.

“There are systemic problems that have not been fixed for quite some time now,” Fejeran said.

In September 2017, state government officials found no significant deficiencies and praised the office for making drastic improvements. However, the auditor’s record is marked by multiple mistakes in recent years. According to a 2015 report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office, the county office was unable to account for over $2.5 million worth of variances in accounting records. The report also stated the county was only able to accurately prepare financial statements for five of the past 11 years as of 2015.

“It’s been a flat-out embarrassment for the state,” Fejeran said.

He said he would bring good auditing practices back to the office and work on developing their internal processes. Fejeran identified the position as one of the party’s priorities at a November campaign event.

“I’m not looking to bring any radical change to the auditor’s office,” Fejeran said, “just returning to the basics of what it’s supposed to be doing.”

Fejeran, a Pullman resident, said he has been with the Whitman County Democrats for the past two years. Fejeran said he has been working a 40-hour work week since he was 18 years old, including three years as a Subway shift lead, three years on the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories’ manufacturing floor, three years in its quality division and a year as a poker dealer at Zeppoz, where he currently works.

He said he developed skills such as root cause analysis while working at Schweitzer, which would help him track down any potential problems in the auditor’s office. Fejeran said he is proficient with software and social media.

Sandy Jamison, the Republican candidate, announced her plans to run for the seat in January. She said she would use her experience from past accounting and business administration positions to better train staff and manage the office.

Fejeran said the position is important for Democrats, but campaigning will be difficult because many Whitman County residents live in rural areas, making them harder to reach.

“I’m not going to take any vote for granted,” he said. “I’m going to run this race pretty hard.”