Auditor Candidates Connaughton, Bump Square Off at Stonehill College Debate
October 18, 2010
By Erik Potter
The two major-party candidates for state auditor took every opportunity to swipe at each other's background and experience during an hour-long debate Monday night at Stonehill College.
Republican Mary Connaughton, of Framingham and Democrat Suzanne Bump of Great Barrington squared off in a heated one-hour session sponsored by WickedLocal.com and WCVB-TV.
The candidates offered opposing viewpoints of the role of the auditor's office and qualifications of the person holding it.
Connaughton, a certified public accountant, stressed the need for transparency in government and her desire to make the auditor's website a place where citizens can go to find information about how state government is spending their money.
"Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and I plan to bring a whole lot of sunshine to Beacon Hill," she told the crowd at The Joseph W. Martin Institute for Law & Society.
Bump [pictured left with Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Martin Institute], a former four-term state representative, said she would focus less on where people could find the information about state spending and more on how it is spent.
"The whole point of my candidacy is to make government work better," she said. "It's about asking the next set of questions: Why did we spend this money this way? What did we get for it? And how can we do it better?"
The two candidates, along with Green-Rainbow Party candidate Nat Fortune, are running to replace Joseph DeNucci, who is retiring after 24 years as state auditor.
Connaughton [pictured below with Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Martin Institute] said that setting up a website where government spending, contract bidding and cost-benefit information is available will give politicians pause. "Before they make a spending decision, I want them to think, ‘Is this Connaughton-proof?'"
Neither candidate plans to overturn DeNucci's controversial pay raises for employees, but Connaughton said she would rid the office of unqualified personnel by asking them to resign and reapply for their jobs.
Bump said that would be as detrimental as taking away the pay raises.
Bump also said that certified public accountants lack the training for the types of audits required by government, which ask not only whether an agency has followed the rules, but whether the job could be done better or at a lower cost.
Connaughton accused Bump of insulting the accounting students at Stonehill College by implication. Bump clarified, telling Connaughton, "I'm just saying you don't have the leadership skills."
Bump emphasized her tenure as secretary of labor and workforce development and four terms as a state representative, and Connaughtonstressed her experience as the former chief financial officer at the State Lottery, as a Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board member and certified public accountant.
The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
WickedLocal.com and WCVB-TV are also sponsoring a debate, from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, between treasurer candidates Steven Grossman, a Democrat from Newton, and Karyn E. Polito, a Republican from Shrewsbury. The event will also be at The Martin Institute, 320 Washington St. in Easton.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.