Pennsylvania’s race for auditor general is wide open as Eugene DePasquale, who is running for the United States House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, will finish his term in January 2021.
The auditor general conducts audits of school districts, liquor stores, state-run correctional facilities and other institutions to independently ensure the state’s money is spent properly, according to the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General’s website.
Four candidates from the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green parties will vie for the seat on Nov. 3. Here’s a look at the race:
Nina Ahmad (D)
A molecular biologist and business owner, Ahmad and her family emigrated from Bangladesh when she was 21 years old. She earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and attended Thomas Jefferson University for a medical fellowship, according to her website.
Ahmad served as president of the National Organization for Women in Philadelphia and was a member of former President Barack Obama’s Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, she said.
Ahmad ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2018 in her first attempt running for statewide office but lost the primary election to John Fetterman. She won the auditor general primary with 36.4 percent of the vote, according to Ballotpedia.
“Democrats were ready for, you know, a brown woman, an immigrant, a scientist,” Ahmad said. “All of those things that you don’t see normally. That’s not a standard candidate. So that gave me some political capital to run for this statewide office.”
Ahmad served as Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for public engagement, who is responsible for improving community outreach, under Mayor Jim Kenney, according to her website.
If elected, Ahmad would like to build on DePasquale’s legacy as auditor general, she said.
Ahmad’s platform includes restoring some of the department’s budget, which was cut by 10 percent during DePasquale’s term, increasing funding for schools, increasing access to broadband internet in rural Pennsylvania and creating a pandemic preparedness audit, which would look into how federal and state funds were allocated during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“[I would] make sure that we not only have integrity of the use of dollars, transparency and accountability, but really equity for all 67 counties,” Ahmad said.
Timothy DeFoor (R)
DeFoor grew up in Harrisburg and has more than 25 years of experience combating fraud and auditing in the public and private sectors, he said.
He began his career as a special investigator and later a special agent for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to his website.
In 2015, DeFoor was elected to serve as Dauphin County’s controller, which supervises fiscal and accounting records for the county, and helped create the county’s first Audit Division, according to his website.
“I wanted to stay as far away from politics as humanly possible,” DeFoor said. “But sometimes you find politics, sometimes politics finds you. This time, politics found me when I was asked to run for Dauphin County controller in 2015.”
DeFoor serves on the Harrisburg Area Community College Foundation Board of Directors and State YMCA Board of Directors. He is a member of the Greater Harrisburg Area NAACP and the Pennsylvania State Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #78, according to his website.
If elected, DeFoor would ensure businesses received the COVID-19 relief they applied for and expand the number of expert contractors the office uses when conducting audits, he said.
“I would have [expert contractors] consult and help make any recommendations and also help summarize the findings, if any.” DeFoor said. “Because the only way you can really make a dent and be effective with regards to somebody’s audit is to bring in those subject matter experts.”
Olivia Faison (Green Party)
Faison grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from West Philadelphia High School, the Philadelphia Tribune reported. She launched a write-in campaign for City Council in 2019 on the Green Party ticket.
Faison serves as the chair of the Health Center #4 Advisory Committee, secretary on the Board of Directors for the City of Philadelphia Health Centers and a block captain, according to the Green Party of Pennsylvania’s website.
Faison is running to protect Pennsylvania’s poorest communities from climate change and industrial contamination, like lead contamination, she said. She believes in immediate action to combat climate change and aligns herself with the Green New Deal, according to the Green Party website.
Faison’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Jennifer Moore (Libertarian)
Moore was raised in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, WHYY reported. In 2017, she was elected to public office, along with seven other Libertarian candidates in Pennsylvania, as auditor of Upper Providence township in Montgomery County, according to a Libertarian Party press release.
Moore is also the vice chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Project podcast.
Moore believes the auditor general should be transparent about where the state is spending Pennsylvanians’ tax dollars and road tolls. If elected, she will create a COVID-19 pandemic audit to ensure money was allocated properly for education, healthcare, small businesses and unemployment, VOTE411 reported.
Moore’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.