Campaign Countdown: Vermont auditor

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 4:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:22 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Saving the state money and preventing waste, fraud and abuse: those are the goals of the Vermont state auditor’s office. While the candidates running for auditor this year share those goals, they have different plans on how to achieve them.

Doug Hoffer has been Vermont state auditor for 10 years now. The Democrat/Progressive grew up in Connecticut and quit high school in the ‘60s. Eventually, he made his way to Williams College and then attended Buffalo Law School. Hoffer only applied for one job after school in 1988, working in Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Office.

“They were doing very interesting work in economic development which was an interest of mine. I worked for the city for five years and then I went out on my own to be a policy analyst. I don’t know how I paid the bills, but I had a great time,” Hoffer said.

As auditor, Hoffer has looked into a number of issues in the state, not just involving money and taxpayer dollars but topics like Vermont employment growth, protection of personal identification, recovery grants and his recent work involving criminal justice.

“We just did a job on the Vermont Criminal Justice Council which is responsible for training uniformed police officers. That wasn’t about the money at all, it’s about whether and the extent to which the council serves us all well by making sure all those officers are trained and get the training they are required to,” Hoffer said.

He says the most difficult part of the job is getting lawmakers to create change when it’s warranted.

If elected again, Hoffer says he would like to address concerns about public transportation, digital services and broadband.

“I don’t work for the governor, I don’t work for the Legislature, I work for the people of Vermont. I’m completely independent,” Hoffer said.

Richard Morton is the Republican running for auditor.

“If you’re going to sort of summarize my campaign, what I am trying to accomplish here-- it has to do with integrity, compassion, prosperity,” Morton said.

Like Hoffer, Morton grew up in Connecticut. He became a minister and moved to Vermont to run a church in Brattleboro. He’s run for statewide office before without success. Morton is a banker which he says makes him qualified for the auditor job.

“I was the assistant vice president in charge of compliance and security. Those roles are extremely important for the banking world, but they basically involve doing audits,” Morton said.

Morton is running because he likes the idea of being able to look over the shoulder of government and make suggestions for improvement. He says he has all the qualities that make a good auditor.

“You need to be a detailed person. You need to be willing to follow through and not try to take the surface level. You got to dig deep, and you’ve got to be a team worker,” Morton said.

Morton has no preset agenda if he is elected for the position. Although he believes Hoffer has left a good model for Vermonters, he wants to examine audits Hoffer has done in the past and see if more needs to be done to improve government performance in those areas. He’s also interested in examining election integrity-- looking at the work of the secretary of state and local election records.

“We’re at the town clerk’s office, and this is just an example. We would probably have a team come to a town like this. Maybe not this one, but a town like this. Then send a questionnaire ahead of time as to how they conducted their elections so we have the preliminary information. Then we would go into the details of how they protected the ballots,” Morton said.

Morton is looking forward to Election Day and wants people to know if they vote for him, he intends to fight for fair government.

“I want people of Vermont to have confidence that government is being looked at and looked over and held accountable for them,” Morton said.