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Day one of a trial regarding the qualifications for office of Rob Tribble as Nevada County’s next Auditor-Controller is in the books. Tribble won the June election but his opponent, current Assistant Auditor-Controller Gina Will contends he does not meet the required qualifications to be seated.

Prior to the start of the trial, both parties jointly submitted a statement of stipulated facts – a recitation of facts they agreed on. While being questioned as a witness today, Tribble contradicted two of the stipulated facts, stating he did perform some functions not listed in the stipulation.

On the other hand, he did admit the two projects he is currently working on do not have offices, employees or a product. His own consulting business is not a corporation or LLC and he does not have a Dba (Doing business as). There are no employees, and he does not file business taxes separate from his personal taxes.

However when James Sutton, the attorney representing Gina Will, asked, “Do you believe that you’re qualified to be the Auditor-Controller?” Tribble responded: “Oh, absolutely.”

Gina Will, in response to a question, gave a brief overview of her qualifications, “I have Bachelor of Science in Accounting. I have been the Assistant Auditor Controller since July 2020, serving under Marsha Salter, the current Auditor Controller. Prior to that, for twelve years, I was the Finance Director for the Town of Paradise.” Asked why she brought the lawsuit, Will responded “I was very concerned that the person that serves as Auditor-Controller for Nevada County has the experience and qualifications necessary to run the office appropriately. There’s a large amount of responsibilities required to provide appropriate financial reporting, to provide all of the services that our office provides to schools, cities, special districts, and the county.”

Will’s attorney also called on two expert witnesses, both Auditor-Controllers in two California counties, who both stated they did not consider Tribble as qualified for the position according to statute 26945 b. [see below for the full statute]

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Tice-Raskin requested both parties brief by Friday on two questions: “The court has been presented with various expert opinions, including expert testimony. Today, I need the parties to provide me with the legal authority that would permit this court to consider those types of expert opinions when engaging in the process of trying to construe the statute at issue, mindful of the rules of interpretation that this court is bound to follow in connection with that process. Secondly, the parties need to address the question of remedy. If the court ultimately concludes the contestant has met her burden, what is the remedy that is called for in a situation such as this one? Is the court simply to declare the election a nullity? Is the court to declare that there was a winner?”

Closing arguments by both parties will be heard on November 8, 2022 at 9:00 am. Once the arguments are concluded, the court has ten days to rule in favor of either contestant Gina Will or defendant Rob Tribble. Either party has the option to appeal the ruling to the Appellate Court.

The qualifications for County Auditor-Controller are codified in the state government code:

26945. No person shall hereafter be elected or appointed to the office of county auditor of any county unless the person meets at least one of the following criteria:

(a) The person possesses a valid certificate issued by the California Board of Accountancy under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code showing the person to be, and a permit authorizing the person to practice as, a certified public accountant or as a public accountant.

(b) The person possesses a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university, college, or other four-year institution, with a major in accounting or its equivalent, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 5081.1 of the Business and Professions Code, and has served within the last five years in a senior fiscal management position in a county, city, or other public agency, a private firm, or a nonprofit organization, dealing with similar fiscal responsibilities, for a continuous period of not less than three years.

(c) The person possesses a certificate issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors showing the person to be a designated professional internal auditor, with a minimum of 16 college semester units, or their equivalent, in accounting, auditing, or finance.

(d) The person has served as county auditor, chief deputy county auditor, or chief assistant county auditor for a continuous period of not less than three years.

(Amended by Stats. 2000, Ch. 1055, Sec. 37. Effective September 30, 2000.)