Candidate's View: Elect state auditor committed to unbiased, reliable data
I am the DFL-endorsed candidate for state auditor. I believe that the best, most lasting change happens locally — and I know that when neighbors have the tools they need to identify solutions to their problems, Minnesota does better. That's why I want to be your next auditor.
Our auditor focuses on three specific areas: oversight, education, and representation.
She oversees more than $20 billion in local spending, helping to analyze how that money is being spent and with what kinds of results. She educates local leaders with the training, data, and analysis they need to make the best, most informed decisions in communities across our state. And she represents Minnesotans on boards that deal with issues like investments, economic development, housing, and pensions.
But maybe, most importantly, our auditor is an arbiter of truth. In this time of fake news and unprecedented assaults on truth-tellers, we need a state auditor committed to defending real, unbiased data.
My mom taught me early what neighbors working together can accomplish. She joined the Burns Township Road and Bridge Committee to achieve a simple goal: pave our neighborhood dirt roads. Because she had the right information and analysis, she was able to find the resources to improve not only our roads but those in other neighborhoods as well. To me, that meant my friend down the street with asthma could ride bikes with us again and our neighbor on oxygen could enjoy an evening on the porch.
I'm running for state auditor because I want to support people like my mom in local communities across this state. I've devoted my life to that kind of grassroots work.
As a math teacher, I know firsthand how to help people understand data. I can provide the context and analysis regular people working in their communities need to process complex financial information. The better people truly understand how finances work in local government, the better our local decisions will be.
As a labor leader, I fought for policies that are good for all working people. I worked to protect the freedom for all working Minnesotans to come together to negotiate a fair return on their work. In addition, this year, I worked to pass the historic, bipartisan pension bill as a member of the Public Employee Pension Coalition. In 2016, Minnesotans in St. Louis County received pension benefits totaling nearly $217 million. Because Minnesotans who earn those pensions spend most of that money in their own communities, stable pensions benefit our whole state.
As chief financial officer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO — the state federation of labor representing more than 1,000 local unions with over 300,000 members — I analyzed budgets and audits to ensure our resources were matched with our goals and values.
And as president of Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, I worked alongside parents, neighbors, and students to help build the schools our students deserve, from advancing statewide anti-bullying legislation to protect our LGBTQ students to ensuring our schools had effective funding.
My life's work has taught me how to focus the power of my position to get real results. I know what it takes to build strong connections — even in the face of deeply held disagreements — and make progress that builds stronger communities.
I would be honored to be the auditor who fights alongside you with the truth you need to make change happen. I am ready to be a trusted, unbiased partner to our townships, cities, counties — and you, the people of Minnesota.
Julie Blaha of Ramsey, Minn., is the DFL candidate for Minnesota state auditor (blahaforauditor.org). She wrote this at the request of the News Tribune Opinion page. A "Candidate's View" column from the Republican candidate for state auditor, Pam Myhra, was published online Wednesday.