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NM auditor candidates tout personal experiences

SANTA FE – The two Democrats running for state auditor say they’d bring plenty of experience to the office charged with examining the financial affairs of public agencies in New Mexico.

Bill McCamley

State Rep. Bill McCamley of Las Cruces is a former Doña Ana County commissioner and current chairman of the House Labor and Economic Development Committee.

“I’ve been living and breathing state and local public finance for the last 15 to 16 years,” McCamley said.

Brian Colón is an Albuquerque lawyer with experience in complex business and financial transactions, and a former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

“I want to take that finance and law perspective that I have combined and use it for the benefit of New Mexicans,” Colón said.

Brian Colón

McCamley and Colón are competing for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Wayne Johnson, who was appointed state auditor in December. Johnson is filling the vacancy created when the previous auditor, Democrat Tim Keller, became Albuquerque mayor last year.

The Auditor’s Office is in charge of ensuring that the finances of local governments and other public agencies are examined each year. The work is often handled by independent auditors overseen by the state auditor.

The office also promotes transparency and conducts special investigations.

Colón said he would take advantage of the office’s subpoena power to expose fraud, waste and abuse. He envisions a statewide tour to help promote the fraud hotline that whistleblowers can use when they spot misconduct.

“New Mexicans are fed up,” Colón said. “I think I need to tap into that anger that New Mexicans have about the fraud that goes on in New Mexico government and leverage it with the capacity of my office.”

McCamley’s priorities include increasing transparency and accountability for tax breaks, and showing that early childhood programs are an effective public investment.

“The job of the auditor is to really delve deep, do research, find out what’s working and what’s not, and put information out there that will make this state better,” McCamley said. “If that means ruffling feathers, I am not afraid to do that, and my reputation on that count speaks for itself.”

Colón said he grew up in poverty, giving him personal experience with effective government programs. He lived in subsidized public housing and required government help to survive, he said, and was just a teen when his father died.

“I know how important it is to get the resources where they belong,” Colón said. “When there’s waste, fraud and abuse, we know that those lack of resources end up disproportionately affecting those most in need.”

McCamley says he, too, brings personal experience to the job, including stints at Harvard University, where he received a master’s degree in public policy, and service on an independent redistricting commission that drew up district maps without regard to political interests.

At just 25, after winning election to the Doña Ana County Commission, he successfully pushed for open budget hearings, he said.

“We put the budget together in public instead of having it be done in back rooms,” McCamley said.

Both candidates said they would operate the office independently, without partisan favoritism.