EDITORIAL: Elections aren't best way to hire auditors

2013-11-27T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Elections aren't best way to hire auditors nwitimes.com
November 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The abrupt resignation of Indiana state Auditor Dwayne Sawyer on Tuesday prompts us to remember that office will be on the ballot next November.

How many Hoosiers know what the auditor's responsibilities are? How many Hoosiers even know there's a state auditor?

This is an obscure office, to be sure — and for good reason.

The state auditor, like the county auditor, is an administrator. What each office does is valuable, but not highly visible.

Why is it that voters elect people to administrative, not policymaking, positions?

This isn't the best way to choose the right person for those jobs. The typical voter knows little, if anything, about the candidates. Votes are cast by political party preference, or perhaps purely by whim.

What Hoosiers need is public officials chosen because of their qualifications. In high-profile races like governor, that's easily accomplished. No so in minor offices, however.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels created the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, which recommended consolidating those finance positions at the local level. It was a good idea then, and it's a good idea now.

The principle that panel established, after extensive testimony throughout the state, was that administration positions should be appointed and policymaking positions should be elected.

That theory should be extended to state government, too.

This has nothing to do with Sawyer, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence three months ago when Tim Berry — who was elected — resigned to become Indiana Republican Party chairman.

This is strictly a matter of good public policy, which is why it should be an issue for the state's top policymakers.

It's a good topic for Gov. Mike Pence's legislative agenda. Complete Daniels' local government reform agenda, and begin reforming state government as well.

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