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Candidate's view: The primary’s primo race is for … auditor?

Minnesota doesn’t need an activist state auditor

I’m your state auditor. I’ve served you for two terms, and I’m the DFL-endorsed candidate for reelection. I know the job, I love the job and I want to continue our legacy of good government in Minnesota.

As the state auditor, you don’t make state policy, and you don’t hand out money. But you do have to watch the money, and I do that well. In fact, I was elected president of the National State Auditors Association, and I won the National Excellence in Accountability Award (for a report on reducing energy costs in local governments).

Similarly, you don’t always tell people what they want to hear. Rather, you tell them what they need to know, and I do that without fear or favor. Recently, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the 180,000-

member worldwide association of the auditing profession, named me one of the 15 most influential government auditors in America, alongside the U.S. comptroller general, citing my “courage, integrity, and leadership.”

The state auditor doesn’t oversee the state budget. We oversee $20 billion in local-government spending (except school districts). That mostly means towns, cities and counties. I work every day to make sure people can trust their government. When people trust their government, they support their government. Trust comes from transparency and accountability in finances and efficient, effective service delivery.

While the job of auditor is critical, it’s not a glamorous job. Because of this, state auditor candidates often make promises they can’t keep and run on being “activist” state auditors. But activists have an agenda, and having an agenda can call the integrity of the numbers into question. Similar to what they want from the secretary of state, the people of Minnesota want nonpartisan, accurate numbers from the state auditor. This information is used by the Legislature to make important policy and spending decisions, by the media to inform the public, by state and federal agencies, and by citizens. The integrity of the numbers matters, and activist spin does not belong in the reports. I defeated the last activist state auditor by the largest margin in 112 years.

If elected to a third term, I want to identify and quantify statewide infrastructure needs. Our infrastructure is aging. It includes water and sewer systems, roads and bridges, energy systems, school facilities, and more. We don’t currently know the total need and future liability of our infrastructure. This information is not compiled in one place, and there is no overall plan for tackling it. Some of our local governments have long-term plans for maintaining and/or replacing infrastructure, but not all. Some communities do not have the population to support these costs. This quantified information can help inform the discussion of legislators and the governor when planning how to fund infrastructure needs over the coming decades.

Our legacy of good government in Minnesota didn’t happen by accident, and I want to continue it. I would appreciate your vote in the primary on Aug. 12.

Rebecca Otto of Marine, Minn., is the DFL incumbent for auditor in the Aug. 12 primary election. To learn more go to