NEW ULM - Randy Gilbert has a quality he thinks makes him unique in the race for Minnesota State Auditor this year. He actually has an accounting background and has worked as an auditor.
He figures that puts him ahead of State Auditor Rebecca Otto, a former state legislator who has a B.A. in biology from Macalester College and a master's in education from the University of Minnesota. Her challenger for the DFL endorsement, Matt Entenza, is a lawyer and former state legislator.
Gilbert is the endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Republican Party.
"People point out that you're not required to be an accountant to be state auditor," said Gilbert, campaigning in New Ulm on Thursday. "You don't have to be an attorney to be state attorney general either, but let's see someone who's not an attorney try to get elected."
Gilbert claims an accounting education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He worked four years as an auditor with KPMG, LLP, an audit, tax and advisory firm. He worked another year as an accountant and auditor with McGladrey & Pullen, then two years as a finance and marketing analyst with Damark International.
Since 1991 he has been owner and president of AdvantEdge Companies, specializing in the acquisition, finance structuring, renovation and management of rental properties, and since 2006 has been a senior management consultant and auditor with Assurance Consulting.
Gilbert has also served as a city councilor in Moose Lake, then three terms as mayor of the town.
With this background, Gilbert feels he is well suited to do the job of state auditor without the political baggage that others have brought to the position. He sees the office as being the financial watchdog for the people of Minnesota, not just the state government, but every public taxing entity.
As a mayor of a small town, Gilbert said he realized how many towns that don't have the resources for a lot of administrative staff rely on the auditor's office for advice and directions. As someone who grew up in northern Minnesota, he knows how smaller entities are involved with the auditor's office.
Gilbert said it is impossible to avoid accusations of playing politics when a state auditor is dealing with political entities. But he feels confident he can be independent when dealing with issues like MNsure, the state's health insurance system set up under the Affordable Care Act.
If the state is wasting money with the program, it is the state auditor's job to say so, without worrying whether the DFL will accuse him of playing politics.
He said Otto, who has been endorsed and supported by entities she is supposed to be keeping an eye on, cannot make the same claim to independence.
Gilbert said he realizes the office of state auditor is one that doesn't get a lot of attention from voters, but he plans to keep touring the state, especially Greater Minnesota, in preparation for the election in November.