Katy Nesbitt
The La Grande Observer

With the departure of long-time Wallowa County Treasurer Chonelle Dutcher Price last spring, three candidates have filed for the vacated position.

Last spring, Dutcher Price was replaced by Kathy Casper. Casper left the position this summer and Ginger Goebel Burns, a Wallowa native who has been the county road department’s administrative assistant for 16 years, served as interim the past several weeks. The long-time county employee said she is enjoying the position so much she decided to run for office.

“When the position first became available I didn’t want it. I love my (current) job and my co-workers, but after one day at the treasurer’s office I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Goebel Burns said.

Goebel Burns’ first job with the county was as the administrative services director, but she left the position to raise her daughter. For six years she worked at Silver Creek Financial Services in Lostine as a tax preparer before returning to work for the county. She said the treasurer position suits her drive to put the right numbers in the right places.

“I absolutely love it, though it’s also very daunting,” Goebel Burns said.

Challenger Carolyn Doherty was the county treasurer’s department specialist who worked with Dutcher Price for seven years.

Doherty graduated from Enterprise High School in 2000 and attended online college courses. She said she worked in real estate before joining the county assessor’s staff. She was there three years before moving to the treasurer’s office.

“I really enjoy working in the treasurer’s department and the variety of work and the people of the community,” Doherty said.

The complexities of the job appeal to her, as well, she said.

“You have to know all the budget numbers and which money is coming from the state,” Doherty said.

Along with property taxes, the treasurer’s office takes in money for the Wallowa Lake Service District and transient lodging taxes, as well as working with schools, the Education Service District and managing foreclosures.

“Process is very important. There is a process for everything that goes on in county government,” Doherty said.

Velda Bales is another candidate for treasurer with a strong background in accounting. An Enterprise High School graduate, Bales said she earned an accounting diploma and certificate from the La Grande College of Business.

The former 4-H horse club leader now serves as a 4-H resource leader and served on the Wallowa County Fair Board for nearly eight years.

Bales said she was recently appointed to St. Katherine Catholic Church’s financial council. She said she also helps her husband, Greg Bales, a pilot, with Wallowa County Pilots Association events like the annual fly-in at the Joseph Airport in August.

Professionally, Bales said she has more than 33 years experience as an office manager, doing bookkeeping and accounting for her family’s businesses as well as at Main Street Motors in Enterprise.

With a son in college, now seemed a good time to run for office.

“I’ve thought about running for treasurer in the past. I thought it might be a good move for us at this time,” Bales said. “I’ve always enjoyed working for, and with, the community and I’ve been involved enough to think that’s what I want to do.”