The following is a series of questions and answers from Betty “BJ” Spiker, a candidate for Brown County treasurer.
Q. Share with us about yourself and your family.
A. Hi, I am Betty (BJ) Spiker, a Brown County candidate for treasurer. A little about myself: I met my husband, Jeff, while attending Kansas State University. After graduation, we worked in Missouri before finding an opportunity to move back to Brown County to be closer to family. We purchased a small farm north of Robinson where we have raised two smart and athletic boys, horses and cattle. As many of you know, I am very proud of our boys, Lane and Trent, and if asked about them, or my horses, you may be in for a set! We have lived on our little farm for over 20 years. We absolutely love living here and wouldn’t change a thing. I have volunteered in many ways to serve Brown County, such as coaching preschool soccer, teaching Sunday school, Relay for Life committee, Jingle Bell Rider, member of the Brown County Mounted Search & Rescue and the Robinson Volunteer Fire Department. I have a strong faith in God and believe we should help whenever we can.
Q. What are the positives or benefits of living in Brown County? What are the challenges?
A. I love being a Brown County resident! We have some of the most fertile ground in the region. There are unique shops, good places to eat, services, health care … you don’t have to travel to find what you need. And, that comes with the small-town care for your neighbor attitude. Yet, we are not far from the larger cities if you do want to go. The history of our county is also a benefit: the Halloween parade, Davis Memorial, melodrama and people we are known for are positive things for our county. The weather can pose a challenge at times, and a larger city may have a larger variety, but that’s with any rural community.
Q. What are the most important responsibilities of serving as Brown County treasurer?
A. Important responsibilities of the treasurer are budgeting and distribution of county funds and overseeing employees to ensure good customer service.
Q. What experience and/or training qualifies you for this position?
A. I have a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and have management experience. I am the current deputy treasurer and have a hand in working with the state, balancing, bookkeeping and audits. I was in the office during the transition from the old motor vehicle system to our current one. I have been to state training on this motor vehicle system, the accounts management side, property tax, driver’s license and fraudulent training.
Q. How long have you worked in the Brown County treasurer’s office? Since you are currently an employee in the treasurer’s office, if elected do you feel like your transition from employee to treasurer would be easy or hard and explain your answer. Please include what your favorite part of working in the office is.
A. This is my 17th year in the treasurer’s office. With any change there may be challenges but, if elected, I do not believe it would be a difficult transition as I already serve a supervisory role as deputy treasurer. My favorite part of working in the treasurer’s office is being able to assist with the difficult issues/questions that customers have. I enjoy researching and finding a solution or at least helping to point folks in the right direction.
Q. How beneficial do you think it will be to get training from the current treasurer when you take office is elected?
A. It will be extremely beneficial to get training from Cheryl. Having an understanding of her position vs. learning the fine points of how she accomplishes her job is critical.
Q. What are the three most important issues you feel need to be addressed concerning the treasurer’s office and how would you address these if you were elected?
A. I feel there are some background issues to be addressed: state changes, cross training and office procedure. While not directly noticeable, would help with the flow and overall customer service, staying on top of changes at the state that may have an impact on our office, more cross training of job duties to help with the understanding and flow of how each one affects another. That understanding leads to office procedure being more uniform and creates good accountability.
Q. Do you believe there should be term limits in local government, such as county offices? Why or why not?
A. I’m not opposed to term limits. It can keep offices from becoming complacent. But, at the local level, too much turnover could make some positions more challenging.
Q. Why do you want to serve as treasurer and what qualities do you think will make you successful as treasurer? And what do you feel is the most important duty of the treasurer?
A. I am a resident of Brown County. I want to serve my county and do right by it. This is a stressful position that takes more time and effort and not just a 9 to 5. I am hard working and willing to put in that extra time and effort. I am committed to Brown County! I know how to work with and assist the public while adhering to the state statutes the office is bound by. I’ve mentioned the importance of budgets and distribution but also staying in compliance with the state statutes and regulations regarding, not only those, but balancing and reconciliation.
Q. Why does the treasurer need to know about the cities and school districts within the county?
A. The treasurer needs to know the cities and school districts to be able to do budgets for and distributions to them several times a year.
Q. If elected, you would be following in the footsteps of someone who has held the treasurer position for many years. What challenges do you foresee this could bring?
A. Cheryl has held the treasurer’s position for many years and has laid good groundwork to follow and continue on in her footsteps. The biggest challenge will be the learning curve for those duties that have become second nature to her and may require more planning for a newly elected official.