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Gunkel ready to make 'good changes'

Treasurer-elect Christie Gunkel poses for a photo Wednesday at the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell. Gunkel will start her new post Monday. (Chris Huber/Republic)

Christie Gunkel says she's more than ready to take over as Davison County's new treasurer.

"I've spent the last few days reading codified laws that apply to the Treasurer's Office," Gunkel said in a recent interview. In the meantime, she is enjoying time at home with her sons.

Gunkel defeated incumbent Treasurer Brenda Veldheer in the June 5 Republican primary and was unopposed in the November general election.

"I'm just getting ready to start on Jan. 7," Gunkel said. "There will be some changes in the Treasurer's Office, but at this time I'm not sure exactly what they might be and when they'll be made."

Gunkel foresees no loss of service during the transition. She worked three and a half years in the Treasurer's Office under Veldheer before being fired in June 2011, over the objections of the county commissioners, for reasons that were never publicly disclosed.

That's all water under the bridge for Gunkel, who envisions a welcoming office with a friendlier atmosphere.

"It will certainly be, hopefully, an office no one dreads to go into," she said.

"Obviously, people have to give us money for their taxes or their license plates, but we can, at the least, make the process as painless as possible. There's no reason to be crabby about it."

Gunkel is familiar with county procedures and most software. "It's not like I'm walking in blind," she said. "I remember the majority of it."

Gunkel plans to spend time reviewing state training programs.

"I think reviewing the training system will give me a refresher course so I can start right away."

Bernice Houska is the only remaining employee from Gunkel's time with the office, but she also met briefly with department employees who were hired after she left.

"Bernice knows a lot about motor vehicle registrations and she will get me up-to-date with any new changes in the system," Gunkel said.

State Division of Motor Vehicles Director Deb Hillmer credited Gunkel for urging the management at County Fair Food Store in Mitchell to apply for a self-service vehicle licensing kiosk. The DMV approved the application and the self-service terminal will come online early in the new year. Residents from any county will be able to renew vehicle registrations at the kiosk.

Gunkel downplayed her role in the matter.

"I'm excited," she said. "I just hope we can make good changes for the community."