Champaign County Auditor’s Race: The Banker Vs The Accountant

Champaign County Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana, IL.

The Champaign County Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana, home to the county auditor's office.

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Two years ago, Democrat George Danos lost a bid (his second one) for Champaign County Auditor to Republican John Farney by just 36 votes. Farney is now interim County Treasurer. And Danos is running again for auditor --- this time, against Farney’s replacement, Diane Michaels.

Michaels was a local banker and Champaign County Board member serving on the Finance Committee, when she was appointed in late 2017 to be interim auditor. At a September candidates forum in Champaign, she says she’s been told by some that’s she too honest and direct when it comes to county policies and rules.

“I’ve worked very hard to get a good name within the community of being loyal, committed, but also straight down the line,” said Michaels.

But Danos questioned whether Michaels is truly independent from the Republicans and county board members who appointed her.

“I bring to the office of auditor accounting experience, certification and this is key, independence that I think my opponent cannot,” said Danos.

Danos said if elected, he’d be the first certified public accountant to serve as Champaign County Auditor.

“That’s (CPA certification) rare in candidates for this office,” said Danos, “but valuable for this role.

Michaels noted that the auditor’s office already has a CPA on its staff. She stressed her community ties.

“I have a vested interest in this community,” said Michaels. “I have lived here. I have worked here. I have worked not only in a corporate world, but also have helped on many other non-profits within here.”

Danos said his top goals if elected auditor are to rigorously police outgoing county funds, to tighten up internal controls on such things as county-issued credit cards used by employees for county business, and to issue more timely financial reports.

Michaels said one of her goals is to replace Champaign County’s aging accounting software, which dates back to the 1980’s. Along with a new and more efficient system, she said she wants to increase the amount of funds paid out by the county electronically, instead of by check.

Story source: WILL