Meet the candidates for Minnesota State Auditor

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The Minnesota State Auditor’s race is probably one of the lesser-known ones on the ballot this midterm election cycle.

Incumbent Julie Blaha (DFL) is running for re-election. Ryan Wilson (R) is hoping to unseat her.

Blaha was first elected in 2018. She said the role is about protecting people’s freedom to make decisions for their local communities.

“My best work is killing headlines,” Blaha said. “My best work is keeping people out of trouble, trying to prevent problems before they happen. And so whenever you’re not hearing about your Auditor, that’s generally a good thing.”

Wilson ran a medical device auditing company for a decade. He’s also a lawyer who specializes in constitutional law.

“Minnesotans have been through a lot for the last four years,” he said. “We had a tough go with the pandemic, with the riots, and people were just having a lot of questions about how was their government working, especially their local governments, their schools, their cities, their counties.”

Blaha said one of her priorities is to build on the good things that worked during the pandemic.

“Going forward, our next steps then are to say, alright, how do we take the infrastructure we built during COVID and make sure it is available in any crisis? How do we expand our oversight?” Blaha said. “We’ve added the extra $20 billion in an additional federal audit, now let’s expand more into schools. Let’s see if we can provide more support to townships that are struggling to find auditors in the first place.”

She said her office had started building a schools team before the pandemic hit and they had to shift focus to CARES and American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

If elected, Wilson said his overall goal is to be a “watchdog.” But he would also prioritize schools.

“A lot of our spending happens at that local community level, at our school districts. Those are little governments. Those are local governments, and that falls under the State Auditor’s jurisdiction,” Wilson said. “A school district hasn’t been audited in Minnesota in, oh, I think over 20 years now. And I think a State Auditor can come in and help a school district and help communities understand where that money’s going. Audits don’t have to be punitive. They can be informative. They can help communities know how much of our spending is making it into the classroom.”

The midterm elections are on Tuesday, Nov. 8.