Auditor Thompson Sworn In To 5th Term

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Calling public service a “blessing,” Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson was sworn in to a fifth term Friday, cementing her status as one of the county’s longest-tenured auditors.

The ceremony at the Athens County Courthouse was highlighted by the presence of Dave Yost, Ohio auditor of state, who administered the oath of office.

Thompson thanked her staff, family and fellow Athens County officeholders for supporting her for more than a decade while serving in the auditor’s office. In October, she will celebrate her 15th year serving as county auditor.

In a quick speech, Thompson repeated a call for “good government” in the Athens County area. She said officeholders’ primary motive should be to serve the public rather than for personal gain.

Both Republicans, Thompson and Yost both served on an executive council for the County Auditors’ Association of Ohio while Yost was Delaware County’s auditor. Yost called Thompson “fair, competent, professional” and said she has a detail-oriented nature required for the job.

Yost noted there is no “Democrat” or “Republican” to being a county auditor.

“(The books) are either honest or they are cooked,” he joked to The Messenger.

Even with a lot of experience, Thompson and former Athens County auditor Pete Couladis agreed the office does not offer much room for complacency. Couladis, who served from 1977 to 1995, said this has long been the case for that position.

“You can never be comfortable because everything is always changing,” he said.

Thompson described her office as being a “creature of statute,” one that is often dependent on ever-changing public policy. In keeping up with contemporary Ohio rules, there is plenty of networking done with officeholders throughout the state.

The job hasn’t changed, Thompson said of the past 15 years, but “how I go about it has.” She said she is more familiar with all the resources and places to turn to for help, including utilizing a network of 87 other county auditors from around Ohio.

Besides managing the fiscal books for county offices, the auditor’s office has many other responsibilities, such as determining property tax values. Then there are tasks like selling dog tags and sealing local gas pumps, Couladis said.

In an elevator room close to the auditor’s office, a wall is lined with portraits of Athens County’s 22 auditors who have served since the role was established in 1821. Thompson is the eighth auditor to serve at least 10 years. It appears that if she serves out the remainder of this fifth term, she will surpass Couladis as the longest-tenured Athens County auditor.

Longevity aside, Thompson said she remains focused on staying in the present, monitoring any changes in Ohio codes and doing her best for county residents.

She said she is not eyeing the Ohio House of Representatives’ 94th District seat, which will be contested in 2016 after Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) becomes term limited. Thompson ran against Phillips in 2008 in what was then the 92nd District seat and was narrowly defeated, but Thompson said Friday she is committed to the auditor’s role and has no plans to run again for the Statehouse.