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Incumbent's View: Experience, knowledge critical for running county auditor's office

Nancy Nilsen of Duluth is the incumbent St. Louis County auditor. She wrote this column for the News Tribune at the request of the Opinion page. Her challenger in the Nov. 8 election is Victore I. IronCroft of Duluth, who didn’t respond to a request to write a “Candidate’s View” column.

Nancy Nilsen
St. Louis County Auditor Nancy Nilsen (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
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Experience matters! The depth of knowledge necessary to manage the St. Louis County Auditor’s Office is significant. The auditor is responsible for finance and accounting, investments, the county’s service center, elections, serving as clerk of the board, the tax department, and auditing.

As the current St. Louis County auditor, I have the education, experience, and knowledge necessary to manage this office. Along with being the auditor for the past almost four years, I was the chief deputy auditor for the prior 11 years. I have a masters of business administration degree to back up my experience.

I have accomplished many things as your current auditor. We have maintained our bond rating of AA+, which helps lower the cost of borrowing money. We bonded twice in the past four years. In 2020, we bonded for $25.3 million at an interest rate of 1.63%. The money went for road and bridge projects throughout the county. In 2021, we bonded for nearly $26 million at an interest rate of 1.85%. This money went to three Public Works buildings. It was important to bond when we did so we could get some of the lowest possible interest rates available in a long time for much-needed infrastructure.

We received $54 million in American Rescue Plan Act money and $24.7 million in CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) money from the federal government that has been managed in addition to the auditor’s $4.2 million budget.

I am the chair of the board for the Minnesota Association of Governments Investing for Counties. This consists of 69 counties with just under $1.8 billion of assets under management. Of this amount, more than $215 million is from St. Louis County. Our money is invested in safe and secure opportunities.

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In addition to managing the finances of the county, I managed the elections during the pandemic, which was challenging for all involved. For the 2020 general election, we saw the highest voter turnout in St. Louis County in 20 years. Even though we dealt with issues related to the pandemic, the results were accurate, which ensured the integrity of the election process. I managed several recounts, which went smoothly and proved the accuracy of our systems.

I kept the Service Center open at the mall during the pandemic, even though most DMVs closed their doors or were operating by appointment only. I knew how important it was to have the services we provide available to our citizens.

I understood the toll the pandemic was taking on our citizens and businesses. I worked with the County Board to allow citizens and businesses directly affected by the coronavirus to submit their property tax payments up to two months late with no penalty or interest.

The auditor’s office has 71 employees who provide excellent customer service to our citizens.

My vision as county auditor includes continuing our practice of providing excellent customer service; maintaining high financial integrity; maintaining our AA+ bond rating; ensuring that our investments are in stable, secure opportunities; administering accurate, fair, and impartial elections; providing a service center that maintains a smooth, efficient process for customers to obtain vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, and passports; auditing for fraud and compliance with statutory requirements; providing accurate tax statements; providing guidance to the County Board on finance-related activities; and investing in new technology to streamline processes and reduce expenses.

I am an honest person of high integrity who brings strong character and continued stability to the office of St. Louis County Auditor. Let me use my experience and education to represent you. Please vote to reelect Nancy Nilsen on Nov. 8.

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