CEDAR RAPIDS — Next month’s elections pit acquaintances and former colleagues Sharon Gonzalez and Denise Sotelo Westerhoff against each other for the Linn County Treasurer position.
Democratic incumbent Gonzalez, who has been with the office since 1979 and has been treasurer since 2010, is seeking another term. Republican Sotelo Westerhoff, who worked part-time at the Benton County Treasurer’s Office for a few years and spent about 35 years in the Linn County office as a senior accountant and senior title clerk before retiring, is running against her for the four-year treasurer seat.
Gonzalez said one of her biggest goals is to help implement the county’s new Tyler Technologies workflow system, which the Board of Supervisors approved earlier this year. The program will help streamline functions and put multiple departments on the same system, she said.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time, so that’s one of the reasons. I would like to get this up and running in the next four years. Along with a new website basically for customer information and for Realtors,” Gonzalez said.
Sotelo Westerhoff said she’s been using the Tyler system for years.
“I’ve learned a lot of different things on how to work with the public and what the treasurer should do with the public, and also they have a great system to work with,” she said. “I can come and teach them all how to use it.”
In addition to the office’s new workflow software, both candidates talked about the importance of customer service in the office — where residents often go to pay their taxes or process vehicle transactions and registrations.
Both agreed that most in the public want their trip to the office to be convenient and free of long lines.
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“I feel like maybe I can help alleviate that,” Sotelo Westerhoff said. “I feel that the deputies and the treasurer have to step up and take accountability for some of that paperwork and help get that paperwork done and go to the window and actually help the people.”
Gonzalez, who has pushed for several customer service-related functions in the office in recent years, said efforts are being made — including the addition of several new staffers — to enhance the overall customer experience.
“It’s a juggling act sometimes, every single day. I have deputies, and myself, will wait windows or be on phones or do whatever it takes, because we don’t want the people to wait — that’s the bottom line,” Gonzalez said.
The Linn County Treasurer is paid about $110,000 a year.
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