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Entenza wants to be 'active and vocal' auditor

State auditor candidate Matt Entenza will face current auditor and fellow Democrat Rebecca Otto in the Aug. 12 primary election.

State auditor candidate Matt Entenza said the most common questions he has been hearing as he travels the state campaigning have been about the basics.

People are asking “What does the auditor do?” and “Who is the auditor?” Entenza said during a Monday visit to Red Wing.

“I think it’s sad that such an important office has such a low profile,” he said. Entenza said he hopes to change that.

A former state legislator with a background in law, Entenza entered the auditor race late in the filing period, drawing some criticism for his timing and his challenge to current state auditor and fellow Democrat Rebecca Otto. He faces her in the Aug. 12 primary, and the winner will run against GOP and other party candidates in November.

Entenza said he decided to run because he feels it’s time for a change to a “more active and vocal” auditor.

The office conducts financial audits on cities and counties, but Entenza said he wants the auditor’s position to be “about more than just balancing the books.” Sharing information on key issues should be a big part of the job as well, he said.

“Historically the auditor’s office has played a bigger role than it has in the past eight years,” Entenza said, referring to Otto’s tenure.

One of his top priorities would be keeping pensions from being privatized and communicating how important public pensions are, Entenza said.

He also wants to use the office to fight against tax breaks for large corporations, which he said can put small and rural communities in tough spots, and to expose and work against public school funding inequalities between metro-area and Greater Minnesota districts.

Entenza, who grew up in Worthington, Minnesota, said he would be the first auditor in two generations from outside the Twin Cities metro area and bring a perspective on rural issues.

Entenza emphasized his background as an assistant state attorney general and assistant Hennepin County attorney and in prosecuting white collar crimes on top of his experience in state government, saying he believes he is a good fit for the office.

While his candidacy has drawn some criticism, it also has brought a focus to the auditor race, and Entenza said he is happy it’s spurring talk and interest.

The primary is giving the state auditor’s office the “attention it deserves,” Entenza said. “It’s a real opportunity to have a discussion around the state.”

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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