Christina Stueve Hodges Oct. 26, 2012, 6:48am

In the race for Auditor - overseer of spending - Madison County voters have a choice between Rick Faccin, incumbent Democratic candidate with public and private sector experience, and Republican certified public accountant Jeremy Plank, who currently works as deputy Treasurer for the County.

Faccin says his 25-30 years of administrative experience qualify him to be re-elected this year. Also serving as chief financial officer for Catholic Charities, Faccin says he has been responsible for placing 1,000 children in foster care and on welfare.

The Madison County Auditor’s Office is the “envy of other counties in Illinois, fiscally,” according to Faccin.

Faccin touts an award “Auditor of the Year” he received in 2010 and the fact that he was elected president of the bipartisan state auditor’s association as examples of his leadership ability. He also said he received the certificate of excellence in financial reporting for all 11 years he has been in office.

“You have to have experience managing people and managing an office," he said. My record speaks for itself with the awards I’ve won,” Faccin said.

He said the County has minimal debt, and that he would continue to keep Madison County financially stable.

“When (other) government entities are struggling, the county has kept its affairs in excellent financial condition,” he said. “We have money in the bank.”

Faccin said he is proud of having given up his pay raise and pension plan to save tax payers more than $640,000.

“It’s irrevocable once you’re out, you’re out,” he said.

He worked for Catholic Charities for 22 years, where he is a board member and served on the County board from 1994-2000.

“I believe when you enter into public service, there are certain things you’re going to give up," Faccin said. "I’m elated to be the auditor and to provide service back to a county that’s been so good to me."

He boasts his office made technological upgrades without consultant help.

“I’ve put together an excellent professional staff that is very attuned to the requirements of that office,” he said. “I stand on my record. You can see accomplishments we’ve had in there. I think that office has been very well managed.”

Faccin has a Facebook presence and is reaching voters through traditional mailings and newspaper outreach.

Faccin, 58, is a 1971 graduate of Alton High School. He received an associate’s degree from Lewis and Clark Junior College in 1977, a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville in 1979 and a master’s degree from St. Louis University in 1982.

Jeremy Plank, CPA

Republican candidate Jeremy Plank says his CPA license and auditing experience qualify him to be elected Auditor.

“I have internal control experience and private sector as well,” Plank said.

He said he wants to be a working auditor, “not just another public official.”

“Secondly, I will run it with efficiency in office,” he said, claiming Faccin “outspends his colleagues throughout the state by gross margins.”

Plank claims he won’t accept gifts or tickets from vendors of the county and said he would not accept a county pension.

“I think public officials need to set an example," he said. "We are not here for life. We are here to serve.”

Plank said he would perform need-based audits and assessments.

“We’re in the top 7.5 percent nationally for the most expensive property taxes,” he said.

If elected, he said he would put downward pressure on budgets.

“We live in an economy, where people are struggling to pay bills," he said.

"I don’t think government should be spending excessive amounts of money. We’re looking to reduce the tax levy. I will be auditing the cash function, auditing personnel. I will also do needs assessments for the departments, so we’ll be pushing forward some of those things.”

Plank said he is reaching voters through Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, an inexpensive way to reach people, he said.

“They can read all about you, and you can get on there and target a demographic that you are interested in reaching. That’s a super-attractive thing about Facebook.”

His accomplishments as assistant to Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler include cutting the budget and saving $600,000 in two years over prior annual spending, increasing customer service and installing an accessible desk for the disabled, he said.

He said the Treasurer’s office brought $22 million back to local banks and credit unions. The office, he said, has also increased local investment and local banking.

The theme of his campaign is to bring a new set of qualified eyes for Madison County.

“It’s the first time having a CPA in that office when I’m elected," he said. "I’m focusing on that."

Plank has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, a bachelor’s degree in pastoral studies from North Central University in Minneapolis, and a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

He has been married for 11 years to Tiffany, a teacher. They have a son, Logan, 9.

“It’s time for a new set of eyes, someone who’s going to come along and not just rubber stamp everything," he said. "You have to look at the big picture."

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