Editor’s note: Candidates for state and national offices on the ballot for the August 28 runoff election were invited to respond to questions for profiles in The Ardmoreite. Those who chose to respond will be featured alongside their ballot opponent. For those that did not participate, basic information will be provided.
I’ve worked in the auditor’s office for 21 years and now serve as Oklahoma Deputy State Auditor for Local Government Services. I’m a CPA, member of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs and the American Board of Forensic Accountants. In the last fiscal year, I oversaw 304 of the 411 audits performed by our agency.
I was born and raised in Coalgate and, although my work takes me all over the state, my husband and I still call Coalgate home.
Why are you running for this office?:
I’m running for State Auditor & Inspector because I love the people of Oklahoma and the idea of someone stealing or mismanaging our tax money infuriates me. I’m a conservative who believes government should be limited and every dime should be spent under the highest level of oversight and accountability. I’m uniquely qualified for this job because I have been performing government audits for more than 20 years. For the last six, I’ve worked as Deputy State Auditor, overseeing counties and municipalities. The type of performance audits I conduct at the county level is the type of audit every gubernatorial candidate is demanding. We must have a State Auditor who’s able to hit the ground running, who knows exactly what to look for, and knows exactly where to look. Voters are demanding a new level of accountability in state government and that’s what I will deliver on day one.
What do you think are the top three biggest challenges facing our state?:
Almost every policy challenge in state government can be traced back to one thing — the budget. The State Auditor will have a key role solving three budget-related issues.
1. Oversight - State agencies desperately need a system with appropriate checks and balances to enforce 21st Century accounting standards. We must make incidents, like the $30-Million Health Department fiasco, a future impossibility.
2. Accountability - I will work closely with the Attorney General and District Attorneys to make sure anyone caught deliberately mismanaging taxpayer money is held accountable. It’s a critical step to deter corruption.
3. Transparency - The way State agencies collect and spend our money should not be a secret. An open budget process, with publicly-available performance audit results, is a must for responsible government.
What are your top five priorities to address while in office?:
I expect my first 100 days in office will be prioritizing and organizing the statewide audits we expect our next Governor to demand. These are the five steps I would take immediately.
1. Prepare the Auditor’s staff for an increased workload with leadership, training, and clearly-defined objectives.
2. Advise our next Governor on his available options within the confines of our present resources.
3. Determine and recommend a matrix for prioritizing the sequence of any statewide audits.
4. Determine and recommend a reasonable and effective scope for the type of audits we perform.
5. Organize the staff to achieve maximum results with maximum efficiency.
When faced with a specific situation that puts your personal viewpoint at odds with a great many of your constituents, what decision do you make and why?:
Auditing, at its core, is a quest for truth. One of the many things I love about being a CPA is that numbers don’t lie. Motives and feelings don’t get their own columns on a spreadsheet. The figures either add up or they don’t.
Consequently, my viewpoint would only be at odds with someone who wants to hide the truth. My political viewpoints, and my personal opinions on policy, are immaterial to the job I perform. I realize this is the year of the political outsider, Oklahomans want a change in state government, and everyone wants to drain the swamp. However, if there is one elected position where experience and expertise matter most, it is the office of State Auditor & Inspector. The taxpayers of Oklahoma do not have time for an Auditor who needs a learning curve. The next State Auditor must be ready to get to work immediately.