Pennsylvanians are fortunate to have two excellent candidates in Republican John Maher, a certified public accountant, and Democrat Eugene DePasquale, a lawyer, vying to succeed Jack Wagner as auditor general.
Both were reformers in the Legislature. Both are champions of open-records laws. Both are bright, experienced and exhibit the kind of leadership qualities the state truly needs.
In the end, Maher’s accounting experience and his innovative ideas to target questionable spending before performance audits are conducted make him our preferred choice.
Maher, 53, of the Pittsburgh suburb of Upper St. Clair, has represented parts of Allegheny and Washington counties in southwestern Pennsylvania for 14 years in the state House. He worked for years at the Pittsburgh office of Ernest & Young before starting his own accounting firm in 1989. Though much of his work in the Legislature, since 1997, has concentrated on agricultural issues, he is most noted for his bold leadership in the fight to establish modern open-records laws.
The Erie Times-News Editorial Board was most impressed with that record, including the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s decision to give Maher its top award for work supporting freedom of information. Maher rightly cited it as one of his greatest career accomplishments.
Maher makes a strong case for being a watchdog on financial matters and openly states his independence from fellow Republican Tom Corbett’s administration. That, really, is the one major leap of faith the electorate must make in voting for him. We were impressed enough to not consider it a big issue.
The fact that Maher has extensive experience as an auditor separates him from his opponent. He said he would hone in on areas examined in compulsory audits, being less interested, for example, in knowing how many teachers and students there are in a school district, and more interested in the size of classrooms. We like that kind of thinking.