The Office of Auditor General is probably one of the least known statewide offices, but its scope and potential impact are important. In recent years, this fiscal oversight office has investigated, audited, and challenged everything from dog laws, state wine kiosks, and school district travel costs, to child abuse hotline calls, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and charter school operators. Considering the impact COVID-19 has had on budgets — and the potential for federal relief dollars to flow into the state — this fiscal oversight role will be more critical than ever.

Fortunately, there are two strong candidates for the office. Both are notable for being among the few people of color running for statewide office. Republican Tim DeFoor, who is African American, currently serves as Dauphin County controller and has had investigator roles in the Office of the Inspector General as well as the Attorney General’s Office. His Democratic challenger, Nina Ahmad, who came to the U.S. from Bangladesh as a student, would bring a different expertise to the office. A scientist by training, as well as a small-business owner, she was a candidate for lieutenant governor, has worked in Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, and served as president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women.

We believe she would bring a wider perspective, and the ability to not only question spending of state agencies, but how government operates and the priorities it makes. The Auditor General’s Office doesn’t have deep authority to make change, so it must rely on making its findings visible and public. We believe Ahmad would bring that strength to the office. The fact that Pennsylvania is shamefully lacking in women holding statewide office gives her the edge — and earns Nina Ahmad this board’s endorsement.

About Inquirer Endorsements
Prior to each election, the Inquirer’s Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom, identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate.
We think all elections are important and try to cover as many as we can. We research the candidates' backgrounds through the work of our newsroom colleagues, as well as through our own reporting. The Board also hosts meetings with candidates running in contended races, where we ask them about their stance on the issues we think are most important to their constituents. This year, we held virtual meetings with them on Zoom. The meetings are on the record.
We invite your comments on this process and our endorsements at opinion@inquirer.com. If you’d like your comments to be considered for our letters to the editor page, please include your address and phone number (not for publication) so we can verify your identity.