Two face off to lead the Yakima County clerk's office that's been under a microscope
YAKIMA, Wash.- The county clerk's office is in charge of managing court documents and any money transactions that may come with them.
Over the last couple years, the clerk’s office has been accused of mismanaging money and not properly filing paperwork for child support.
“We did have issues with the support orders. The staff that worked there had done those transmittal to the state was not aware there was a five-day rule,” current county clerk Janelle Riddle said.
Riddle has been the county clerk since 2014 and is on the ballot to be re-elected.
A group of locals put together a recall to get her out of office last year. Saying riddle cost the county more than $250,000.
She also has a case with the Washington State Supreme Court. After she appealed a judge's decision to not have the county pay for her legal fees because of the recall filed against her.
Riddle said all the problems brought up were fixed when the auditor pointed them out back in 2016.
“That money did not cost the taxpayers. That money was a decrease in revenue for me and our office,” she said.
Riddle's opponent for this election, Tracey Slagle, said the current office is dysfunctional with the way it's being run.
“Over the last three and a half years I’ve watched this clerk’s office deteriorate and that is my motive to run for Yakima county clerk. To get this office running again,” she said.
Slagle was with the county clerk's office for 24 years. Before moving over to juvenile court for the last three years as a supervisor.
Since she's left the clerk's office, Slagle said the office has had a high turnover and not enough training on the systems they use to process documents.
And to make sure there's no problems with mismanaging money, Slagle said she already has plans to make sure it doesn't happen again.
“Just making sure you have a second, maybe even three eyes on it starting out and checking things over. Especially in the money area,” she said.
Riddle said the claims about her office being run poorly are not true and there have been many improvements with her in charge.
Such as cross training her employees to handle more than one job and getting credit and debit card readers to pay for court documents.
Riddle said her experience is still needed in the clerk's office. While Slagle said it's time for someone new to be in charge.
“Having someone new with no experience is just going to be a disaster,” Riddle said.
“They are ready for change. They are ready for new leadership.” Slagle said.