Letter to the Editor Regarding the Recorder-Clerk Race

by Placerville Newswire / Oct 31, 2018 / comments

[Bob Stucky]
Dear Editor

I attended the Taxpayers event featuring the candidates for Recorder-Clerk, Janelle Horne and Todd White. Kudo’s to the Taxpayers group for holding these candidate events, and for the attempt to limit questions to those appropriate and relevant to the office. 

I had hoped and expected to see two qualified candidates making strong cases for their election. Franky, that didn’t happen. I’m sure Ms. Horne is a wonderful, competent person. Before today, I had never heard her speak. Based on what I saw and heard, she is not qualified for the Recorder Clerk position.

My background is in leadership and management. My evaluation of the candidates is purely based on what I saw and heard at the Taxpayers’ event. It’s very possible she had a bad day.

Ms. Horne name-dropped Bill Schultz 4 times on 3 different questions. People who are confident of their abilities and qualifications do not name-drop in a job interview. That she has talked with Bill is irrelevant. While name-dropping isn’t a disqualification, it is a red-flag. Regardless, it’s in bad taste to make your case by trying to establish a direct link between yourself and the incumbent.

Mr. White name-dropped once. He named the Assistant Clerk as the person handling a new software program’s implementation and roll out. His mentioning her was to express his confidence in her ability to excel. Making statements linking your potential future success to the expertise of others is a positive leadership trait.

Ms. Horne’s response to a question on technology did not answer it. She ended up talking in generics on training. An example: different people learn differently. By contrast Mr. White talked about his experience as a school board member making technology investment decisions. Ms. Horne’s answer showed no knowledge of the government technology procurement process.

In Ms. Horne’s answer on management experience she called out just about everyone in a home purchase process as someone she has managed. What she described was “project management” – the pulling together the pieces of a transaction. Getting people to submit their parts in a timely manner. That is a vastly different proposition than the management of a department which will include hiring/firing, performance evaluations, budget submissions, setting the priorities of the department in the context of budgets, etc.

Mr. White, by contrast, has managed an organization and all that entails. His experience on the school board convinced him he needed a master’s degree in Management, which he attained.

Ms. Horne stated that she became interested in running when Mr. Schultz announced his retirement. Her background has nothing in it that suggests she has prepared herself to be a department head at the County government level.

Mr. White has been involved in local government in various volunteer capacities since his high school days. He literally has spent his entire adult life gaining the experience and track record necessary to excel at a position in local government.

While I would agree that a degree is not a critical qualification, the score is two to zero. Part of her story was that she and her husband (Marines) transferred to Okinawa in the early 2000’s, interrupting her schooling. I can accept that, and I thank you for your service. In the early 1980’s, about 80 of my engineering department (USS Denver, LPD-9) studied for and received their high school diplomas while deployed. These men were working 6 hours on, 6 off, 7 days a week running a steam plant for 6 months. No internet. Nothing but the ship’s library. They found a way. It’s about setting and attaining goals; about proving you have what it takes to self-motivate to do the hard things.

I apologize to Ms. Horne and her family, especially if the tone of this letter is deemed to be too harsh. It’s by no means intended to be. As I said, I am certain Ms. Horne is a wonderful person. I am reporting what I saw in the context of my life’s experience with regard to hiring and firing decisions of leaders. 

Sincerely, Bob Stucky