April 22, 2010

It's About That Time

Vanessa Sievers ’10, a Democrat, hasn’t had the easiest time as Grafton County treasurer. She was elected in 2008, gaining national attention after her Republican opponent Carol Elliott attacked her for being a “teenybopper.” After taking office, she was criticized by some local officials for being lackadaisical in handing county funds. Even after successfully passing her investment plan last year, the county commission just asked Ms. Sievers to stand aside, according to an Associated Press wire story.

And they're right to do so. As unpleasant as it is, Ms. Sievers should resign her post.

During the 2008 election, I was working for the Democratic coordinated campaign effort in the Upper Valley. When Elliott launched her ridiculous attacks on Ms. Sievers, we were understandably outraged. The treasurer’s job just entails parceling out the county’s funds between local banks, and it was preposterous to assert that a student at a school like Dartmouth wasn’t up to the task.

That was, of course, what we assumed before we saw Ms. Sievers in action.

Are some of the attacks on Ms. Sievers politically motivated? Sure. Commissioner Ray Burton, a Republican, has been critical of Ms. Sievers since day one, and rather unfairly so. Many of his comments have smacked of vendetta against the candidate who ousted his Republican co-worker.

Some things, though, are pretty clear. Ms. Sievers did not move quickly to design and implement an investment plan after her election. She also failed to attend several meetings, instead opting to e-mail her contribution to the commissioners. Many local Democrats defended her, explaining that she just has a different way of communicating “from us old geezers” on the county commission, according to Commissioner Martha Richards (D).

Last year, Sievers explained that she was busy, but was working hard and was in e-mail contact with local officials. This round, Ms. Sievers claims that she didn’t know when meetings were taking place. (Nevermind that the schedule is posted online.)

For Ms. Sievers, it’s been one excuse after another. She has failed to be proactive, failed to attend meetings – and therefore, failed to execute the duties of her office. And what Ms. Sievers does not seem to understand is that being county treasurer isn’t the same as being the College Democrats’ treasurer – this is taxpayer money and it should be handled with care. You don’t just blitz in your contribution, you take the time to show up. If you don’t know when the meetings are, you take thirty seconds to find out.

Ms. Sievers isn’t just hurting herself, she’s damaging the credibility of those who fought for her in 2008, and those college students everywhere who want to run for office in their own communities. Ms. Sievers had her chance – and then another, and another still.

The commission is right, Vanessa, it’s time for you to go.

Image courtesy of Facebook.

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