State auditor candidates make their case to Vermonters - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

State auditor candidates make their case to Vermonters

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Both men running for state auditor believe Vermonters have the right to know how their money is spent. Now it's up to voters to pick the best watchdog. 

"I enjoy the job," said Doug Hoffer, D-state auditor. 

Vermont's auditor is a self-described numbers cruncher. A former policy analyst whose job it is to make sure the state gets the best bang for its buck when it comes to financial decisions and the performance of its employees. Hoffer says his office performs six audits a year and even more investigative reports.

"I have a record. So, I can run on the record," said Hoffer.

Hoffer points to $300,000 in savings after finding Vermont had the wrong cellphone plans paying for 5 million unused minutes. 

His review of prison health care revealed the state could save nearly a half million more if it returned medications inmates didn't need.

"These are not $10 million savings, but if you look throughout state government if you have enough of these it starts to add up," said Hoffer. 

He's most proud of the work his team did on sole source contracts or picking a vendor without going through the competitive bidding process. While it's allowed under extraordinary circumstances, Hoffer found it was happening 40 percent of the time. He says that means Vermonters were not getting the best products at the best prices.

"I'm not looking to shine a light on mistakes but sometimes there's no avoiding it," said Hoffer.

This is Hoffer's second time seeking re-election. The democratic incumbent does not see himself as a politician. A selling point in his eyes.

"The respect I've garnered in the job is because I have not treated the job as partisan. Furthermore, I don't work for the governor. I don't work for the Legislature. I work for you. I work for the people of this state and I take that very seriously," said Hoffer.

"I've come up through the school of hard knocks. I came from a broken Hispanic family. I was a high school dropout. I dropped out when I was 17, joined the Navy went and saw the world and got great experiences," said Dan Feliciano, Republican for auditor.

You may remember the father of three from 2014, when he ran for governor as a Libertarian. Feliciano got 4 percent of the vote. Now the management consultant is hoping the auditor's race will yield better returns. But if you haven't seen him campaigning that's because he's in Mexico working.

"I was only supposed to be there two weeks and low and behold I'm there almost 16 weeks now," said Feliciano.

The self-professed "efficiency expert" says for 25 years he's worked with the IRS, the Navy, large corporations and state governments to improve customer experiences while making their operations better, faster and cheaper. He says the same principals apply to Vermont.

"Although the role of auditor has no direct authority, the skillful use of influence is going to be key here and I've done that with many organizations," said Feliciano. 

Feliciano says if elected, he'll improve financial transparency and ensure state employees have a better understanding their roles and how to do their jobs. 

"We would have a report card on every agency: How are they doing financially? How's your customer experience? How are they performing operationally," said Feliciano. 

Feliciano is banking on what he calls a strong Republican ticket. And sees the auditor's office as a possible pathway to higher political office. 

"It could be a steppingstone," said Feliciano.

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