Auditor Greg Kimsey and opponent Brett Simpson each participate in Monday forum hosted by League of Women Voters of Clark County
The candidates for Clark County auditor on the Nov. 8 general election ballot met for a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Clark County Monday at the Vancouver Community Library.
Current Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey and candidate Brett Simpson participated in the event, which also featured candidates in the races for Clark County Council, District 1 and District 2. Monday’s event was moderated by Amy Easton.
Kimsey and Simpson were scheduled to participate in an Auditor Candidate Forum hosted by the Clark County Republican Women (CCRW) on Sept. 9. Kimsey, who will have served in the auditor’s role by the end of this term for 24 years, sent an email to CCRW President Liz Pike one week prior to the event indicating that he would no longer be participate in the debate because he believed it would be “nothing more than a campaign event” for his opponent. Simpson did participate in that event.
For the complete video of Monday’s event, go to cvtv.org.
On Monday, the questions for the candidates were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Clark County and the candidates were given 60 seconds to answer. Here are those questions and the candidates’ responses:
Why do you want to be the county auditor? What issues are most important to you and what skills would you bring to the position?
Kimsey: I’ve been honored to serve you and your county auditor these past 24 years. During that time, I have conducted elections in a transparent, accurate, secure and accountable manner, producing again accurate results. If re-elected, I commit to you that I will continue to do that. My wife and I were born and raised here in Clark County. We are deeply committed to this county. Prior to serving as county auditor, I worked as a chief financial officer for (inaudible) oil company. I have a Master’s Degree from Penn State University, a Business Degree from the University of Washington. I’m a certified election administrator and a chartered financial analyst. It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to speak to the public and inform people as best we can of what we intend to do when we’re in office.
Simpson: You can find lots of information and lots of back to the things that I say at my website, Simpson4Auditor.com. I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Structure Management from University of Washington. I’ve built lots of complex buildings for Microsoft up in Seattle. Then, we moved down here to start a family and be near my wife’s family in Camas. She’s from Kansas. And then I worked for manufacturers down here including Precision Castparts Corporation, which was FAA required manufacturing … So, I have lots of experience in process and certifications following specifications, very tight specifications. And then accountability for large budgets, including multibillion dollar construction projects.
Many people associate the auditor’s duties only with elections. But the auditor is also the county’s chief financial officer, and oversees several other county services. What is your understanding of these duties? And what are your priorities?
Simpson: There’s a number of different areas that are covered by the auditor. The DOL and DMV issues are, of course, state run. They follow under a bunch of state guidelines that are requirements. The financial is working with the county, checking on budgets and making sure that things are coming in in the way that they’re expected to be and expenditures are correct. But 95 percent of the job is determined by auditors’ associations for elections. The elections are the number one thing. It’s the most important thing. If we don’t have fair and free elections, then we don’t have anything. So the other issues become almost like saying, ‘I need to worry about cleaning a toilet even when the house is on fire,’ right? No, we need to put out the house fire first and then we can worry about the other things. So, my main focus initially will be the way our elections are run.’’
Kimsey: I certainly agree that the most important responsibility of county auditors is to register people to vote, manage (the) voter registration database and conduct elections in a secure, accountable manner that produces accurate results that people have confidence in. However, as you mentioned, the responsibilities are much broader than that. The primary financial officer is responsible for keeping track of over $700 million that comes into the county and is then spent by the county. We pay all the bills for the county. We do payroll for more than 2,000 people. I never realized how complicated parallelism was until I came to the county with 19 different labor contracts. We currently are conducting a performance audit of the county’s Public Works area, looking at their project management procedures and controls. It will be a very interesting report when that’s issued here soon. We work hard to protect the public assets by ensuring internal controls are in place and properly monitored by management.
Do you believe that Clark County’s elections are secure? What facts do you have to support your position?
Simpson: I know they’re not secure. I have lots of facts to support that as well as evidence. You’re welcome to go on my website, again, and you can see all of that evidence. It’s strictly math and statistics showing that we have massive amounts of frauds in our elections here. And it’s not just in our county, it’s in the entire state. All of the systems, or networks, are all compromised. They put in what are called Albert sensors in 2019. Those are horrible things that are meant to check the traffic on a network. The problem is they’re extremely vulnerable. In fact, Lincoln County was attacked through the outward sensors that they were forced to put in and the entire county was subjected to a ransomware attack and had to pay out and every county tried to rip those out as a result. They’re extremely vulnerable. And, it’s made our entire network system here in Clark County vulnerable.
Kimsey: The elections in Clark County are very secure, very accurate. This is supported by the fact that the best test of the integrity of election is a recount. We use paper ballots. When there’s a recount, those marks on those paper ballots are compared against the results that come from the software and hardware that’s been certified by the federal government. It pains me to hear allegations of fraud in the elections process. Without any evidence being provided. Anyone who has evidence of fraud should contact law enforcement, the Attorney General’s Office, the State Auditor’s Office, the Secretary of State’s office, the sheriff, or the county auditor. Let me say that, again, if anyone has evidence of fraud, they should contact and provide that evidence to law enforcement. I’m happy to go on at length if anyone wants to talk in more detail about election processes. My number is (360) 521-6685. I’ll talk to anyone as long as you want about elections.
What are your plans to ensure the safety of the county’s election workers?
Kimsey: That’s become more of a topic over the past 20 months or so, actually 23 months. And certainly the security of our electoral workers is a very high priority for me. We do implement a number of steps to try to keep them safe. Number one, I guess I don’t tolerate abuse of the election staff by members of the public or election observers or anyone else who’s in the office. They are subjected to daily abuse by citizens over the phone. I can’t do much about that. But, whatever we can do to keep our people safe I’m totally committed to doing. We do have the Sheriff’s Office does provide sheriff’s deputies on the campus for security when necessary. Or, when we believe it’s necessary, we do bring in additional additional security. We do provide training to our staff on active shooting and other other situations.
Simpson: I guess I didn’t realize that there was a safety issue for workers. I suppose if it does sound like they’re getting calls and harassed about our free and fair elections, I would say the easiest way is to be transparent about what’s going on with our elections. If the public has lost trust, that’s a serious issue. We did take evidence, as well as the offer of $150,000 of citizens’ money here that we’re willing to donate to do a full forensic audit of our elections. And unfortunately, Mr. Kimsey refused to even look at the data, acknowledge the data or pick our request for an audit. So, there has been evidence presented, including the fact that our electronic data was wiped out six months after the elections. The hard drives were pulled from there. They were sent down via FedEx to Hart InterCivic in Texas where they wiped out everything down to reload new OS systems and what they called the trusted build.
What is your position on ranked choice voting? And why?
Simpson: I think rank choice voting is a terrible idea for America. Specifically, it’s a system designed for parliamentary election systems where there’s eight to 12 parties, and there’s overlapping ideologies in those parties, so you can pick a variety of people you’d want in your order 1-2-3-4. The problem is, we live in a two-party system, or you might say two and one party system, because there’s an independent vote. But, we just saw a result of that in Alaska’s primary, where regardless of whether you like the person who was in that race or not, they garnered 60 percent of the vote, and they still lost. And that’s what rank choice voting does to a two-party system. So I think it’s not suited for our political environment and the structure of our government.
Kimsey: Unfortunately, I thought we were not going to be allowed to attack our opponent this evening. However, you just heard an allegation by Mr. Simpson that I have violated federal law. Again, anyone with evidence, evidence of election fraud, should contact and provide that evidence to law enforcement. Rank choice voting, I have been involved with ranked choice races in Florida and Washington. It began here in Vancouver. So, I’ve been working with rank choice voting for a long, long time. I’m not taking a public position on rank choice voting. I believe it’s just best for the citizens to become informed about that and make their own decision without my influence. I am happy to provide a couple of points of what I think are positives and negatives. A positive is it does, I think, eliminate the spoiler candidate.
What suggestions do you have for legislative action related to elections and voting law?
Kimsey: I’ve been very active over the years with the legislature, not just in elections, but a lot of other areas. Currently, I’m talking with legislators on three different proposals. The first is to use when citizens fill out the juror questionnaire form. There’s a question on that form that says, ‘Are you a U.S. citizen?’ I believe when a citizen fills out that form and says they’re not a U.S. citizen, then they sign that form under perjury. We should be able to use that form for voter registration purposes to identify if that person is a registered voter or not. If they are a registered voter, then be able to take action. In addition, until a few years ago, Clark County did not forward ballots. So, if you moved to Florida, your ballot was going to be returned to us. And then we would contact you and follow up. So, let us not be able to forward ballots any longer. And then, finally, (there is) a lot of controversy recently about cast vote records. I do believe we need a law to make that a public document.
Simpson: First, I’d like to say I agree cast vote records should be a public record. And I think that’s a very important thing to do to bring transparency back to elections. So I completely agree with that. As far as election laws, what do I think should go into place? Well, one, I think we should ban a third party for managing our registration rules, because right now a third party company is who manages our actual voter registration rolls. It’s by the name of ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center. We should be in charge of our registration rules, our elected officials, the people we put in charge and trust with our processes and running our government should be in charge of the voter rolls. I also think we should ban anything where there is no transparency, like the machines where they tell us, ‘oh, it’s proprietary software, you’re not allowed to look at how the machine actually functions and processes ballots.’ That doesn’t make any sense. It’s our process. It’s our election. We should be in charge of it. And we should be in a position to always double check the work.
What has been your prior experience interacting with a variety of groups in the community?
Simpson: I’ve been working real hard in the community the last two years with election integrity groups. We’ve got over 300 people that are actively working on stuff in this and we’ve put in FOIA requests. We’ve tried to bring together the data and bring in national people and educate the community as to what’s going on. So election integrity has taken a very central role in that. I do many other things as well, build and develop communities here, help other businesses, attend church. I have four small kids. So there’s a whole lot of time and soccer and karate and dance and gymnastics. We’re very involved in our community and spread out pretty thin.
Kimsey: So first, I do need to correct my opponent’s statement that the voter registration rolls are controlled by ERIC. That is not true. Voter registration rolls are controlled by the Clark County Elections staff in conjunction with the secretary of state’s statewide voter registration system. My community involvement goes back almost 35 years beginning with a board membership with the Columbia Arts Center. After that, I became a founding board member of the Columbia Land Trust. I’ve served as a board member on the YMCA, also the YWCA, board member for the Foundation of Vancouver Public Schools, I’m serving on the Management Advisory Taskforce for the Vancouver School District. I’m past president of the Vancouver Rotary Club, and I’m currently serving as commissioner for the Vancouver Housing Authority. And then most importantly, of course, I served as the the soccer coach, not a very good one, but I did it. My service has been recognized by the mainstream Republicans as the local Official of the Year, and by the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, as the Statesman of the Year.
How would you manage your staff and collaborate with other state officials?
Kimsey: I think my first goal is to create an environment where the staff is successful, where they have the tools to do their job. Once we’ve done that, then reinforce with them that our number one priority is that when a citizen interacts with the auditor’s office, whether that’s a business owner getting paid for providing services to the county, or if it’s even an internal county employee getting paid, or you’re recording your legal documents, your deed of trust, or you’re getting a marriage license, or you’re getting your title to your vehicle, you’re registering to vote or getting your ballot in the mail, that that interaction results in you’re having greater level of confidence in your government. We take steps to measure people’s performance, their productivity, and the quality of their work. We measure that and hold them accountable. And then sometimes you do have to make tough decisions. We sometimes have to work through the union process and separate people from employment at the county. We recently had to make a tough decision for the licensing sub agents to remain open on Saturdays.
Simpson: My management style, I consider it servant-led leadership. The intention is to provide everyone with the resources, the knowledge and the time and training in order to be successful at what they do. And that’s my goal when I’ve had employees, is to make sure that they’re in a position to be successful. Everyone wants to be successful at what they do. So, it’s a matter of finding how to help them be successful. And I don’t think I’ve ever had people I’ve had to let go or fire directly. I think I’ve never had a bad interaction, because I tend to be, if anything, overly fair to give them as much opportunity as possible to correct the mistakes they made. But the important part of it is to be clear about expectations and then inspect the work and have objective goals that everyone can agree on so that there isn’t a subjective nature in whether or not you’ve held them accountable in the right way or whether you’re or not you’re being unfair.
There are measures in place to ensure the security of county records, including personal property titles, tax records, and vehicle licensing. Do you believe these measures are sufficient? Or do you recommend a review of any specific areas? Why or why not?
Simpson: I think that there’s a lot of room to improve. Like I said, I know that our networks in our county are compromised using our sensors. So we got a big security issue just at that level. And a lot of the IT workers across the state were raising their arms up and saying ‘we don’t want to shove these in our county systems.’ It makes them all vulnerable in the state and the DHS just said you’re going to do it. And lo and behold, now they’ve been under attack. So, one issue is network security. Another is data redundancy. Like I said, our election information wasn’t kept properly according to federal law. So, it makes me concerned about other public records as well. Is there data being stored or things being properly imaged so that there’s actual forensic detail to go back to prove that a legal document was legal and hadn’t been altered? And then, it’s how has the data been stored over long periods of time? If we have microfilm and we have other things that are stored for 100 years, what you’re storing it on needs to have the ability to withstand that test of time. And you want to also put it into cloud-based encrypted servers, so you’re not dependent on location if something happens.
Kimsey: Lincoln County was not hacked into through the Albert sensors. Albert sensors simply monitor traffic coming into the county servers. Albert sensors are a very good tool to detect bad actors attempting to attack the county system. Of course, there’s always opportunities or need to try to improve your security system. You know, the bad actors are always improving their ability. The county recently hired a new person whose sole job is to focus on security of our infrastructure and technology. All of the election information and data from every election is retained and secured per state and federal law. We no longer use microfilms to record documents so we don’t have to worry about them, the plastic wearing out. They are available online.
Kimsey: I’ve been honored to serve you as your county auditor for these past 24 years. I’m honored to have been recognized by the voters in this August primary receiving more than 70 percent of the vote in the primary. I’m also deeply honored to receive the endorsements of hundreds of people in our community … For a full list of my endorsements and other information, you can go to GregKimsey.com. If I’m reelected, I commit to you that I will continue to conduct elections with the highest level of security, transparency, accountability, producing accurate election results.
Simpson: Yes, please go to my website Simpson4Auditor.com. If you want to see the horror show or hear the horror show of what our election system has become over the last 25 years, what they’ve done by stripping us of fraud protection, the flaws in the processes, in the use of the technologies that they’re using, please come talk to me. I could spend three hours explaining every unfortunate detail that’ll explain exactly what has been going on and what will continue to go on if we can’t get in and actually determine that things are being run the right way. And unfortunately, even our state legislature has worked against us. You can look up House Bill 1068. They passed that to exempt anything that’s related to election security from being publicly disclosed. So our one system of direct involvement in our government has been shut off from the people and the scrutiny and the observation of the people. Feel free to come talk to me or check out my website.
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