Interest builds for auditor seat

After four terms, Washington County Auditor Bill McFarland will leave the post next year, with plenty of interest already in the public office.

The seat will be up for grabs in the November election, with two Republican candidates already filing as write-in candidates and several more expressing interest to the board of elections. As the filing date for the May primary passed last week, all party candidates now must file as write-ins. The deadline for write-ins is Feb. 26. Independent candidates can file a petition until May 7, the day before the primary.

As of the end of the day Tuesday, Matthew Livengood, Washington County chief deputy auditor, and Daniel Everson, assistant city law director, have filed to run. Both are Republicans.

McFarland, who was been auditor since 2003, said he had long been considering not running for another term but made the decision just last Wednesday.

“I literally had the petitions in my hand at the board of elections for the filing deadline at 4 and at 4:01 I put them in my file and left,” he said. “That’s when I made the final decision.”

McFarland said he plans to fulfill the final 13 months of his term and use that time to consider his next steps.

He has no specific plans at this point, he said.

“People are surprised because they think ‘Bill always has a plan’ and they assume something is lined up,” he said. “I really don’t have anything planned. I’m getting ready to enter a free agency period.”

A full retirement is unlikely, McFarland said.

“I have no intention to quit working,” he said. “I sincerely hope some other opportunity can be identified and I’ll still be doing something worthwhile.”

McFarland said he was encouraged to run for the 95th district seat in the Ohio House of Representatives that will soon be left vacant by Andy Thompson, but he has no plans to run.

“I gave it a lot of thought and after giving it careful consideration, I’m not looking for that level of commitment,” he said.

For those speculating about the end of his time as auditor, McFarland said there’s no controversy or strife to find.

“It’s just time,'” he said. “It’s the right time for me. At this end of this term, I will have put in 38 years in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) and given that length of service, given the work that’s to be done here and the way I do it, it just doesn’t allow me a lot of personal freedom.”

McFarland said he gathered the staff of the auditor’s office immediately after making his decision to share the news.

“There was a period of silence,” he said. “Nobody saw it coming. I think since I ran without opposition the last three times, everyone just assumed I would run again.”

Along with surprise, McFarland said he has also gotten some concern that he’s leaving the position due to health problems.

“My health’s fine, that’s not part of the reason,” he said. “In fact, there are other things I want do while I have good health.”

McFarland said he fully supports Livengood to be his successor.

“I can’t think of anyone more qualified,” he said. “I’d like to keep some continuity in the office and I’m hoping folks will support him.”

Livengood, 47, of Marietta, has been the county’s chief deputy auditor for five years. Before that he worked in banking and real estate.

Livengood said from early on in his time in the auditor’s office, he knew that he someday wanted to fill the auditor position.

“(McFarland) has definitely been quite the mentor from the get-go and has me involved in pretty much everything,” he said. “Part of my responsibilities are that when he’s out of the office, I’m in that position. I have to have in-depth knowledge of everything we do.”

While he said he’s sad to see his mentor go, Livengood is “absolutely excited about the opportunity and the challenge” of running for auditor.

“Of anybody that could run I can’t think who could be more qualified,” he said. “No one else has been in the office for five years, as chief deputy. I’m ready for this.”

Everson declined to speak about the race on Tuesday. He has been assistant city law director since 2011. He also ran for Washington County Common Pleas judge in 2016.

Candidates for Washington

County Auditor

¯ Republican Daniel Everson.

¯ Republican Matthew Livengood.

¯ Write-in candidates have until Feb. 26 to file.

¯ Independent candidates have until May 7 to turn in petitions.

Source: Washington County Board of Elections.