Auditor hopes to leave office on high note despite allegations

BY ALY BROWN | JUNE 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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Despite reprimands for his work conduct and campaign efforts, Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett said he will step down from his position in December with his head held high after losing Tuesday's primary race.

Slockett said he will miss the position he has held since 1977 and that he enjoyed educating the public about the voting process.

"Of course I will miss my job," he said. "I love my job and the people I work with. The 500-plus county employees are wonderful people."

Slockett was scolded after a series of recent snafus while campaigning for re-election, including distributing a re-election petition to his employees and calling campaign supporters from his office.

After 35-consecutive years as auditor, he was ousted by Democratic candidate Travis Weipert, a Tiffin city councilor when he garnered only 38 percent of the votes.

Iowa City resident Maria Conzemius said she feels Slockett's reprimands are long overdue, and that they contributed to his losing the primary.

"I think a lot of his behavior contributed to his losing the primary," she said. "It's not one thing or two things that he did but a lot of things over the years."

Weipert — Slockett's likely replacement come January — did not focus on his predecessor's alleged shortcomings but rather his accomplishments while in office. Weipert said he intends to continue and improve on Slockett's legacy if elected.

"Tom has done a lot of really great things," Weipert said. "I want this to be more of a passing of the torch. I want to take what Tom has done and continue to improve it."

Weipert cited voter registration and turnout on two focuses for him if elected — two of Slockett's proudest accomplishments.

"My proudest accomplishment was in 2008," Slockett said. "We had an all-time record turnout for voters."

Johnson County was third in the state for percentage of population voting, Slockett said, and no other large county made it to the top ten.

"We have to work to make voting accessible," he said. "A lot of people think government and think red tape, not particularly good service, and we are working against that reputation."

Slockett will leave office with a heap of accusations at his heels.

After being reprimanded for phoning campaign supporters from his office by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, he is now under fire for possibly breaking election rules.

Security-surveillance videos from Monday show Slockett giving a campaign intern a tour of the ballot room, but Slockett said the ballot room tour was not meant to be secretive, adding that he frequently gives similar tours.

"I have the opportunity to meet a lot of foreign dignitaries," he said. "And members of any political party interested, and I give them tours of the office where we walk through all of the rooms."

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dropped several complaints previously filed against him, reprimanding Slockett only for calling campaign supporters from his office.

"I thought that the board was extremely lenient in only reprimanding him for one charge," Conzemius said. "This was a clear abuse of power."

Slockett said although this is not the note he would have liked to leave on, he is excited to pursue activities he did not have time for during office.

Slockett said he looks forward to traveling to Third World countries in his time off, as well as having more time for his hobbies, such as gardening and cycling. He will ride for his fifth time in RAGBRAI this year.

Slockett said he will leave his beloved position with his head held high, and he offered advice for his successor.

"Do your very best," he said. "Don't expect to be praised for your accomplishments, but do them knowing that they have value to the public."

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