Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia has an excellent background in performance auditing and cutting government waste.
Democrat Pat McCarthy, who is finishing a second term as Pierce County executive, and Miloscia of Federal Way are the two finalists on the Nov. 8 ballot for the four-year state auditor’s job.
The question for voters is whether they need a proven manager of an agency or an advocate for a program within that agency.
Miloscia is a former Air Force pilot and Boeing B-1 contracts manager in a $2.7 billion program. He is zealously making watchdog audits, which are a relatively small portion of the state Auditor’s Office duties, a spear point in his campaign this fall.
Specifically, Miloscia wants to audit state and local homelessness programs to see what correlation there is between different kinds of spending and how that helps homeless individuals get off the streets.
While that’s a noble idea, and one we support in concept, we think McCarthy, who also served as a county auditor, brings better experience as a manager of a large agency and a broader view of government.
As county executive she oversees budgets worth $900 million. She also received an award years ago for improving public records disclosure.
McCarthy presently is working with others on comprehensive solutions to her communities’ homelessness challenge. We were disappointed she is not more enthusiastic about an outside audit that looks at what is spent on homelessness and how well it’s working.
Whoever is elected replaces state Auditor Troy Kelley, a former Pierce County legislator, who steps down from public service in January after one fraught term. Kelley avoided federal convictions on fraud charges earlier this year, which were strictly related to his former real estate-related business.
But the auditing agency was put under a cloud, even though it functioned well under Deputy Auditor Jan Jutte during Kelley’s absence.
The agency now needs a leader more like McCarthy, with people skills to enable outreach to counties and cities, to win buy-ins on audit recommendations, to put the past behind and to work successfully across the legislative aisle to defeat unwarranted budget cuts.
This is where McCarthy has an edge. She has worked with Republicans to pass budgets at the county level. She has been willing to support a small sales-tax hike for programs helping homeless people. And she brings the perspective of someone who has been on either side of an audit.
If the candidates share anything in common, it is that the agency must move forward with integrity and strong audits. This includes investigating whistle-blower complaints. McCarthy has an interesting idea for using social media to remind more workers of the program.
McCarthy is supported largely by Democrats, and Miloscia, a former Democratic House member who switched parties, is backed by Republicans. In the House he passed legislation to set up performance audits. He cites his expertise about performance auditing and past audit work in the Air Force as credentials.
Overall, we recommend McCarthy for auditor and thank Miloscia for his advocacy of efficient government. He could play a strong role in government performance-measuring programs.