MARSHALL - After two terms in office, she knows her job, Rebecca Otto said. It's about accountability and transparency, and if Otto is reelected State Auditor, she says she'll be committed to those standards.
Otto has been traveling around Minnesota to talk about her work and goals for the State Auditor's Office. Otto will be facing off against candidate Matt Entenza in the DFL primaries in August.
The primary race against Entenza came as a surprise, Otto said. Otto is the DFL's endorsed candidate for auditor, but Entenza filed at the last minute. While she wasn't expecting to start a primary campaign, Otto said she's been happy to talk with members of the public about her job.
"A lot of people don't understand the nature of the office," Otto said.
The Auditor's office tends to have a lower profile than some state offices.
"My opponent seems to think that it's the governor's office, and it's not. It's about oversight," including monitoring state, county and local government finances, she said.
Otto said for her, serving as state auditor isn't about playing partisan politics, and that was something Minnesotans tended to appreciate. She will continue to work for transparency and efficiency in state government, she said.
However, Otto said that can mean more than just checking the state's books. The Auditor's Office can also make special studies of state information. Otto said she's planning a new initiative focused on evaluating infrastructure needs around Minnesota. Minnesotans are expressing serious concerns about deferred maintenance to roads and other infrastructure that could have an impact in public health and safety, she said.
Otto said she plans to work together with other state departments and agencies to compile information that can show legislators where specific needs are."We will not recreate work that's already been done" by other agencies, she said.
"There's a lot of data out there," she said, but right now it's not all in one place. Making the information usable and understandable can help state government do its job, without advocating for a partisan course of action.
Besides conducting the infrastructure study, Otto said she will continue to work up to the standards of the State Auditor's Office. Otto's past work has included fighting to keep state auditing services from being privatized. Good government needs strong, non-partisan oversight on behalf of taxpayers, she said.
"People who've worked with us have been very pleased with the job we've been doing," Otto said. "We have a legacy of good government in this state, and that's not by accident."