Yellowstone County commissioners interviewed two candidates for appointment as county auditor on Monday and intend to make a decision during their Tuesday board meeting.
The top candidates are Scott Turner, who retired in 2015 as county finance director after 28 years with the county, and Brock Ullom, a former U.S. Army serviceman who is studying finance at Montana State University Billings.
The commission is seeking to fill the job vacated when Debby Hernandez retired on Nov. 30. Whoever is appointed would have to run for election in 2018 to retain the four-year elected position. The annual salary is $69,721.
The commissioners asked each candidate a series of nine questions, and each interview lasted 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
Turner said he thought the job would “be a good fit” and with his experience in county financing and that there wouldn’t be much of a learning curve.
Turner touted his knowledge and experience with the county’s processes and systems, Montana statutes and contract review and writing.
In addition, Turner said as finance director, he directly and indirectly supervised staff and worked with all department heads on their financial needs, especially in budget preparation. He also worked with the media, he said.
Turner said his best quality was his extensive knowledge and background of the county’s fiscal systems, its people and the organization. His weakest quality, he said, was that he was not much of a politician and “not political by nature.”
Turner also did not commit to running for election if appointed, saying that “probably remains to be seen.” He said he would decide after being on the job for a few months.
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Turner said he could start anytime. He advised commissioners that he had two trips scheduled he had planned before the auditor’s job opened.
Turner has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Montana State University and was a certified public accountant. He worked for an accounting firm, then worked as an accountant for the city of Billings from 1984 to 1987. Turner then moved to the county where he started as comptroller before becoming the finance director, a post he held for 26 years.
Ullom said he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army for about six years before leaving for medical reasons because of an injury.
"I wanted to do more,” he said. And the auditor’s opening was “a good time to serve my county,” he added.
Ullom said his financial experience comes from courses he is taking at Montana State University Billings. His application said he will be graduating in December 2018 with a bachelor’s in finance.
While in the Army, Ullom said he supervised three to five people while at Fort Bliss, Texas, from 2012 until 2015 and was accountable for $1.5 million in equipment. In Texas, he was a military police team leader and worked on improving budgets and efficiencies for the fire department and ambulance service, he said.
Ullom said he has no experience implementing Montana codes and not a lot of experience with contracts.
Ullom said his best quality was his math skills, while his weakest was not being “a very organized person” although he was working on it.
If appointed, Ullom said he could start as soon as Monday and would run for office in 2018 and for each term after that. “I plan to make this my career,” he said.