When looking at the two candidates vying to be the next San Mateo County controller, it breaks down to a choice between one who has been in the office and knows how it works and another who has not been in the office and has ideas on how it could work better.
Though there has been some question as to the qualifications of current Assistant Controller Juan Raigoza, that issue has been put aside for now through court rulings stating that the ballots can be printed with his name on it. Raigoza has 13 years in the office and a wealth of experience in both accounting and audits.
CPA and former Burlingame mayor Joe Galligan also has a wealth of experience in running an accounting firm and, as a member of a city council, a city of approximately 30,000 with around 400 employees.
The Controller’s Office is seldom seen in the public eye and its primary responsibility is to act as the county’s accountant and auditor. It has around 40 employees who provide a host of accounting and auditing services for the county.
Raigoza points to his nuts-and-bolts experience in the office and there is no question he knows what it does and how to keep that running. Galligan brings a slightly different skill set. While he doesn’t know the nuances of the office, because he doesn’t work there, Galligan has a strong sense of what the office could be. He wants to ensure the county retains its top revenue producers and said he is willing to both meet with those companies’ leaders but also our state elected officials to ensure decisions are made to the benefit of the county’s bottom line.
Galligan also provides a wealth of experience in reading city budgets and determining places to save money. In his time on the Burlingame City Council, Galligan was at times a lightning rod for some political decisions but no one could deny that he knew the city budget front to back and always acted as a critical additional set of eyes on it.
While Galligan points to his experience of acting on a budget discrepancy to determine a Burlingame librarian was embezzling city money, it was also the everyday and seemingly mundane questions during the budget process that proved valuable in ensuring the city was spending its money in the best way possible. It is that set of eyes he would bring to the county level and there is no doubt he would be unafraid to bring something out of the ordinary to the attention of county leaders and the public.
Raigoza knows what he is doing and has proven to be an effective and knowledgeable member of the Controller’s Office. We hope he remains in the position as assistant county controller. But for the job of county controller, Galligan is the clear choice.