SAN LEANDRO -- A candidate who promises to "fight waste and fraud" as the next Alameda County auditor-controller admitted to this newspaper that she does not live at the San Leandro senior home where she has registered as a voter and candidate.
Kathleen Knox, 49, also acknowledged this week that she's never worked or become qualified as an investment banker, despite her own campaign literature that describes her "business background in investment banking."
But her residency could be her biggest conundrum. Knox was living in Contra Costa County earlier this year but said she returned to San Leandro, where she owns a business and has long-standing ties, to run for the Alameda County seat.
"I fully moved back once I decided to file," Knox said this week. Upon repeated questioning, however, Knox said she could not recall the last time she spent a night at the Rose Gate assisted living home, which she owns and lists as her home address on her candidacy, voting and other public documents.
She said she once lived on the second floor of the downtown San Leandro elder care home, but that apartment is now occupied by a woman undergoing cancer treatment.
Knox also said she lives in another apartment at a different address across the street but gets all her mail at the Rose Gate.
"It's a campus; it's all under one umbrella," she said.
Her twin children, both graduating seniors at San Ramon Valley High School, live at her Danville house supervised by an uncle, Knox said. She said she did not want to disrupt their education by forcing them to move with her to San Leandro in their final months of high school.
No one answered the door at the Danville home during a recent visit, but one of Knox's cars was parked in the driveway -- a red 1988 Porsche Coupe registered in her name. In a series of phone interviews, Knox objected to questions about her residency as distracting from the more important issues of the campaign and suggested they would probably not have been asked of a man who moved to run for office.
"I think there's a lot more scrutiny on a single mom," she said. "My concern about this is it's kind of a personal, character issue."
But candidates for countywide office need to be a qualified voter in Alameda County to run for a seat, and to be a qualified voter they need to be registered as a voter at their primary residence -- the place where they usually sleep at night, said Noe Lucio of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Candidates list their information "under penalty of perjury. We take their word for it," Lucio said.
Knox filed to run for the countywide office in March after Patrick O'Connell, the longtime auditor-controller/clerk-recorder, abruptly announced he was not running for re-election on the same day that his chief deputy auditor, Steve Manning, filed papers to take his place. That gave outside candidates just three days to join the race for an open seat. Knox is the only candidate challenging Manning in the June 3 election. Both are registered Democrats.
Alameda County's auditor leads a department responsible for all accounting, payroll, tax analysis, contract compliance, and auditing of budgeting and grants. The position also has a dual role of clerk-recorder, charged with the maintenance of vital records, maps and other public documents.
The Rose Gate address has been Knox's voting address since 2006, according to public documents. She also used that as her home address when she served on the San Leandro Human Services Commission from 2007 to 2009, according to the city. Knox, the daughter of former Alameda County treasurer and supervisor Bob Knox, said her ties to San Leandro and Alameda County run deep.