In May 2011, Kristen Scalise stepped into the office of Summit County fiscal officer following the retirement of John Donofrio. Her appointment by Democratic leaders was logical in certain ways. She had been the chief deputy for the previous 11 years. She had the right credentials, notably a certified public accountant. Her selection has proved solid, Scalise combining both knowledge of the office with doses of new energy and purpose.
Now she is seeking a full, four-year term as the fiscal officer. We recommend the election of Kristen Scalise on Nov. 6.
Scalise has responded well in managing the office during a time of financial challenges for all of county government. She has presided over a 6 percent reduction in her budget, her staff going from 209 positions to 154. She has renegotiated contracts with vendors to achieve additional savings.
The fiscal office involves the blending of the duties that fell under the traditional treasurer, auditor and recorder. Scalise has begun to push for ways to make the office more responsive to residents, including greater flexibility in paying taxes. She highlights the need to modernize the recording function and to find avenues for more cost-effective use of mapping technology.
No question, Scalise stumbled at the start of her tenure. She hired the daughter of a highly placed county official to handle public relations in her office. She did so without posting the position or interviewing other candidates. She stresses that she gained legal approval from the prosecutor’s office. Yet the episode smacked of business as usual at the county, pols too easily taking care of pols.
The encouraging thing is, Scalise appears to have learned from the episode. The rest of her time in office has amounted to a strong start.
Her Republican opponent is Ron Antal, also a certified public accountant. He ran into trouble when he fumbled the paying of his property taxes, not a good start in seeking the job of fiscal officer. Antal has an impressive resume, working for large accounting firms and now with his own tax consulting firm. He serves on the Boston Heights Village Council. He speaks broadly about bringing improved practices to the office. Yet in doing so, he makes clear a telling difference. Kirsten Scalise knows better and has been doing well the job.