With two candidates campaigning to be the county controller — an elected job that hasn’t been contested in several years — contenders Joe Galligan and Juan Raigoza addressed several issues to help voters determine their choice on the June 3 ballot.
Galligan and Raigoza sat down with the Daily Journal for an in-office interview and also provided answers to the following five questions to allow each candidate a forum for sharing their own words prior to the June 3 election. Each was asked to keep the answers to approximately 50 words and were only edited for grammar or length.
1. Should the controller be an elected or appointed position?
Galligan: Elected. When it was put in front of the voters a few years ago there was no opposition. The taxpayers were smart enough to understand the checks and balances needed where the controller answers to the voters and not to the county manager or supervisors.
Raigoza: The controller should be elected. The controller performs administrative functions and does not make policy decisions. Although appointment helps ensure that a qualified individual with relevant knowledge and experience fills the position, an elected position is a better way to ensure independence and accountability to the voters.
2. How can the office increase transparency of its functions and county finances?
Galligan: The office is doing great with its new program of “open checkbook” and new feature of “unclaimed checks.” Allowing the public to look into the books opens up the transparency to the spending of the taxpayers’ money. [T]here are some areas that will always need to be private, but for the most part, opening the books allows more public trust.
Raigoza: I have a record of increasing transparency of county finances. We launched the online Open Checkbook and Unclaimed Checks and improved the readability of our financial reports, which demonstrate my leadership for total transparency to taxpayers. These are not promises but demonstrable successes. I will continue these and similar initiatives.
3. What makes you uniquely qualified to be controller?
Galligan: I am an accountant unlike my opponent. I am a CPA and passed the most difficult professional exam regarding public trust, ethics, professionalism and financial statement preparation. My opponent has not. I have a master’s of science in taxation. There is no one who would understand the source of our tax revenue better than me.
Raigoza: I am a professional with proven ability to keep taxpayer dollars safe and improve transparency. My experience includes 13 years with the Controller’s Office and prior experience with two Big Four accounting firms. The citizens deserve a proven leader with real experience; I am the most qualified and proven candidate.
4. The civil grand jury said the controller’s annual reports are not easily understood by the public. How would you make them more digestible?
Galligan: I will have a different way of presenting the financial statements that could make them more understandable. I have served on many local nonprofit boards and was on Burlingame’s audit committee for eight years where I was in charge of the certified financial statements and changed the statements and footnotes to better understand difficult financial happenings.
Raigoza: I listened to the civil grand jury and incorporated most of their suggestions into our annual, award-winning Popular Annual Financial Report. I believe strongly in public participation and encourage all citizens to help me, as controller, make these reports even more informative, useful and easy to comprehend.
5. If you are elected, how will the office change or remain the same?
Galligan: I have successfully run my own CPA firm for over 30 years and understand motivation and responsiveness to keep customer satisfaction at its highest level. I believe in supporting staff with the best educational opportunities possible. I will make sure that we work well with all the different county offices and the local school districts and cities.
Raigoza: I will continue to safeguard taxpayer funds, reduce costs and improve transparency. Our award-winning team serves the citizens well, but there is always room for improvement. I will work to do more performance audits, to increase efficiency of all county services, and will improve our financial, tax and payroll systems.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102
Name: Juan Raigoza
City of residence: Redwood City
Occupation: Assistant county controller
Experience: Controller’s Office, 13 years; Two Big Four firms
Education: BA, accounting and MBA, Chico State University
Name: Joe Galligan
City of residence: Burlingame
Occupation: Certified public accountant
Experience: Former Burlingame mayor
Education: BA, accounting, College of Santa Fe