- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota state auditor seeking a third term is being challenged by a Republican who says his accounting degree and finance experience make him better qualified for the job.

Randy Gilbert, a former mayor of Long Lake, said he thinks it’s time an actual auditor leads the office, which oversees $20 billion in spending for local governments.

“The fact that our current state auditor is not an auditor is something a lot of people are amazed at,” he said. “I want to transform the office so it will resemble more of a private-sector accounting firm.”

Incumbent Rebecca Otto, a Democrat who also spent time in the state House and as a school board member, believes the state auditor needs to be both a leader and a manager. Her experience in both local and state government gives her an advantage in understanding the office’s complexities, she said.

“I’m the only person on the ballot that has the experience and knowledge of what it takes to do this job,” Otto said.

If Gilbert is elected, he said he would work to improve the auditor’s office by making it more user-friendly for small communities, provide information in a faster and more accessible way, and pay close attention to community pension liabilities that threaten solvency. These things are important to address, he said, or Minnesota cities could be susceptible to economic crises.

“If we don’t do something about it, we are going to have Detroits right here in Minnesota,” he said.

Otto believes her record should give voters enough reason to help re-elect her for another term. Some of her most notable accomplishments, she said, were the creation of “best practices” for police evidence rooms and an overhaul of volunteer firefighter pension rules. She’s also proud of her efforts to make information collected by the auditor’s office more user-friendly and easier to comprehend.

If she wins at the polls on Election Day, Otto said she would help policymakers prioritize projects through the establishment of an infrastructure maintenance database.

“We don’t like crisis in Minnesota, and we don’t like surprises,” Otto said. “Right now, many of our communities have deferred maintenance on local infrastructure. When you know what is coming, you can do a better job of planning.”

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com


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