After a less than two-hour meeting Wednesday, the Finney County Republican Party named Trista Joyce, accounting supervisor at Golden Plains Credit Union, as its nominee for Finney County treasurer, an elected position that will be vacated next week by current Treasurer Kelly Drees.

“I’m really excited. I’m excited to serve,” Joyce said. “Public service is a great thing, and I’m excited to serve at the local level where the most difference is made.”

Joyce said in her cover letter for the position that her 10 years of experience as a teller, loan processor, accounting clerk and accounting supervisor at Golden Plains was comparable to the county treasurer position. She was a steward of accounts and allocated funds, reduced costs and increased efficiency in the members’ best interests, she said.

She earned her associate’s degree in accounting from Garden City Community College and her accredited ACH Professional certification from the National ACH Association.

“I am looking forward to innovation. I’m excited to maybe automate some things, maybe do some things a little bit differently so that we can increase efficiencies for the taxpayers…” Joyce said. “I know the department has some great projects coming up, so I think pairing on with those and then evaluating how those work is really going to be key going forward.”

The meeting, which was held at Fry Eye Associates, is the most recent step in the statute-dictated replacement process for elected positions. Thirty-eight precinct committee members for the local Republican Party submitted 44 votes, some by proxy, electing Joyce in a 29-15 vote during the final round between her and fellow candidate Emily Burns.

Drees, elected in November 2016, will leave her position on Tuesday, almost exactly halfway through her four-year term, which ends in December 2020.

Since Drees ran for the position, the local Republican Party is tasked with filling her position within 21 days from the date Finney County Republican Party Chairman Bill Clifford received her resignation letter, or roughly by the end of this week. The party will submit its choice to the governor Thursday and expects a response in favor or against the appointment by early next week, Clifford said.

Clifford said he was not sure when Joyce’s first day would be if the governor approves the appointment, though Deputy County Treasurer Idania Hernandez will act as interim during any transition period.

“The county treasurer is responsible for the collection, investment and distribution of public funds in accordance with applicable Kansas statutes,” and also oversees the County Treasurer and Motor Vehicle offices, according to the position’s job description.

Clifford said last month that the committee was ideally looking for candidates with an accounting degree or at least five years of financial experience, preferably regarding government or public service.

Clifford said party committee members were especially interested in how a new treasurer would serve and interact with the public. He said Joyce best expressed how she, with her background and experience, could meet those needs.

“I think she did a good job just informing the group about what the treasurer does and how she could fit the role,” Clifford said.

The committee also considered candidates Burns, a budget analyst at the Garden City Police Department, and Nicole Hahn, project manager at the Finney County Economic Development Corp. All candidates were Republican. Clifford said one Democrat man submitted an inquiry about the position, but was not allowed to move forward in the process.

Burns attended Garden City Community College, completed the organizational management and leadership bachelor degree program at Friends University and is certified in public management through the University of Kansas Public Management Center.

Hahn in her letter pointed to her experience at the FCEDC. Through her position there, she said she has worked with Finney County, the City of Garden City, the City of Holcomb and GCCC and learned how to be a good steward of tax dollars. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kansas State University.

“Our other two candidates, though, were very experienced women,” Clifford said. “Leadership qualities, very involved with the community, vocal … They were very well and highly endorsed (by their references). So, we had three great candidates. I’m glad.”

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.