Democrat, Libertarian challenge incumbent State Auditor Klutz
The three candidates for Indiana Treasurer – from left, Tera Klutz, ZeNai Brooks and Tom Schick.
INDIANAPOLIS – Incumbent State Auditor Tera Klutz will face both democrat and libertarian opposition this year in her bid for re-election.
Klutz, a Republican, first won election in 2018 after Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed her in 2017. She filled a vacancy created after former Gov. Mike Pence became vice president, pulling Holcomb from lieutenant governor to governor. Holcomb selected Suzanne Crouch, the former state auditor, as his lieutenant governor.
“I feel like with that local government experience, it was very vital for me to come in here,” Klutz said. “I tell people, the state auditor doesn’t audit the financial records of Indiana – we create the reports that get audited.”
Klutz said she might consider changing the name of the office to state comptroller, if reelected, to better align with the office’s duties.
The Fort Wayne native initially worked as a certified public accountant in the private sector, before becoming the chief deputy county auditor of Allen County in 2002.
After two terms, Klutz ran to be Allen County’s auditor, winning in 2010 and 2014.
In her first state term, Klutz said her office documented all processes and procedures to protect institutional knowledge from turnover and revamped the state’s Transparency Portal.
“We gave it a new face where it’s searchable and has different data tables with pie charts. It’s very user friendly,” Klutz said. “A lot of times people who start digging in will have more questions – which is when my office can then step in and help them.”
Klutz called transparency “fiscally responsible,” noting that having information out there, rather than releasing it on a one-on-one basis, alleviates her office from doing the same work repeatedly.
“We used to hold every (payment) for 60 days when I first came in,” Klutz said. “Now we just pay it as we get it and then we can audit it the same day.”
Experience with non-profits compels Brooks
Democratic nominee ZeNai Brooks, a licensed CPA, works as an auditor for several community organizations, including non-profits.
“It’s not a job where we go in and try to catch people doing something wrong,” Brooks said. “I served as an auditor for mostly non-for-profit organizations over the past seven or eight years and it’s really coming alongside them as a partner and making sure they’re in compliance with their granting or regulations.”
For Brooks, that means making reports transparent enough that anyone can read and understand it, not just someone well-versed in legal jargon.
As auditor, Brooks would oversee the state’s transparency portal, where Hoosiers can see how the state spends taxpayer dollars.
“(It’s) helping people understand how the state’s spending money, where it’s going and is the money being properly allocated,” Brooks said. “It’s all part of being able to paint the financial picture so people have a way of understanding it.”
Brooks wouldn’t be the first Black woman in a statewide position – that distinction goes to former Attorney General Pamela Carter – but would be the first Black woman to be auditor.
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Like in many professions, Black women are underrepresented in the accounting profession and Brooks serves as a national director for the National Association of Black Accountants. Brooks said she hopes her campaign will encourage other minority communities to be engaged in government.
“It’s an opportunity to add transparency and accessibility, to add diversity to our state’s political climate,” Brooks said.
Need to reduce government brings Schick to race
John Schick, the Libertarian candidate, said the auditor position should be someone from an alternate party, rather than the one in power.
“The people in the Senate and in Congress and the governor – who are all making decisions to spend money – all tend to be playing on the same team with the auditor,” Schick said. “People should consider that it’s probably best not to have the auditor on the same political party.”
Schick also ran for auditor in 2014 and 2018, and said he’s seen dramatic improvements in the state’s transparency portal since he first ran.
“As a Libertarian, I am looking to reduce the cost of government, increase liberty and freedom, and reduce restrictions and regulations,” said Schick, who works for an advisory firm that does data and analytics. “The state’s auditor position isn’t really conducive to pursuing any of those particular goals because the auditor is more of an administrative position, not a policy position.”
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