With the 2012 presidential elections taking place in less than three weeks, Pennsylvania’s auditor general department will have a chance for a change of power — with three candidates competing for office.
Pennsylvania’s Department of the Auditor General oversees how state tax dollars are used and makes sure the money is well spent, according to the auditor general website.
The democratic candidate Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York, , is a Pittsburgh native and attended Widener University’s law school, according to his campaign website.
DePasquale said he believes in improving the affordability, appropriation and overall functions of Pennsylvania’s public schools and state universities.
He said he was part of the about 18 members of the house that voted against budget cuts to the state’s colleges and universities that Gov. Tom Corbett proposed in February.
Those cuts to higher education included Penn State, Temple University, Lincoln University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny, is a certified public accountant from Pittsburgh, said Brennan Hart, Maher’s campaign manager.
Maher started his own auditing firm in Pittsburgh and transformed it into one of the largest firms originating in Pennsylvania, Hart said. He said Maher left the firm in 2004 to represent Allegheny County.
Maher is the only CPA running for auditor general and is the first auditor to run for the department in Pennsylvania’s history, Hart said.
Hart said he feels that because Maher is an auditor, “he is actually qualified for the position” and being involved in the business world for many years has granted Maher the understanding to “know how to run an organization.”
Maher will influence the department in a way that will fight the mismanagement and abuse of the taxpayers’ money within the state government, and will be able to do so successfully because “only a true auditor will be able to detect this waste,” said Hart.
Betsy Summers, the Libertarian candidate from Luzerne County, questioned the promises that DePasquale and Maher, have made.
She said neither of them can represent themselves as truly independent because of their political affiliations and connections in other forms of Pennsylvania government.
With regard to the size of government, Summers said if the government can be made smaller and work more efficiently, services and programs that help students afford a higher education will not need to be cut.
Summers said she wants to reform the things that she feels DePasquale and Maher are not talking about, which include privatizing the liquor control board, among other issues.
She said she wants to audit the Turnpike Commission, meaning that she would like to uncover any possible waste or mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.
According to a document released by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the commission has the responsibility to “construct, finance, operate, and maintain a toll highway.”
The Wilkes-Barre resident has constantly been involved with the community and politics of Luzerne County, including her run for Wilkes-Barre City Council in 1998 and as mayor during 2011, according to Summer’s campaign website.