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Straight Talk: Race for Portland auditor is contested for the first time in 36 years

Candidates Simone Rede and Brian Setzler make their case to voters.

PORTLAND, Ore. — For the first time since 1986, Portland has a contested race to see who will be the next city auditor. Current auditor Mary Hull Caballero decided not to run for re-election, and for a while it looked like no one wanted to take the job next.

But now there are two candidates vying to replace Hull Caballero; Simone Rede, who works as a senior management auditor at Metro, and Brian Setzler, a certified public accountant.

Rede and Setzler were guests on this week's episode of "Straight Talk" to make their case for election to voters.

What the city auditor does

The auditor's race may not be one voters think a lot about, but the auditor plays a critical role in Portland's city government.

The auditor's office acts as the city's independent watchdog with an eye out for waste and mismanagement. It's supposed to be independent and impartial. The auditor will oversee an $11.6 million annual budget and about 50-employees. 

The office mission is to promote open and accountable government, and it evaluates the performance of city bureaus and programs. It also oversees city elections and the city's public financing system for campaigns, and monitors lobbying activity at City Hall.

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Why they want to be auditor: Simone Rede

Credit: Simone Rede

Simone Rede is senior management auditor at Metro regional government. Before that she was staff auditor with the state of Oregon, where she conducted audits of Oregon's childcare system and TriMet.

Rede said she decided to run because she believes Portlanders deserve an open and accountable city government, "one that is responsive to community needs and delivers on the outcomes promised to voters."

"I have over 15 years of public service experience, most of which I have spent conducting performance audits," she said.

Rede said Portland has a long tradition of performance auditing which looks beyond how government resources are accounted for and into how effectively and efficiently those resources are being used.

"I'm ready to be city auditor because I really couldn't pass up the opportunity," Rede said.

Why Brian Setzler is running for auditor

Credit: Brian Setzler

Brian Setzler is a licensed certified public account in Oregon with over 30 years of experience. He previously worked as an auditor for two international accounting firms and for Washington State in its revenue department.

He said as of Thanksgiving he wasn't planning on running for auditor until he was approached to run.

"Nobody at that time had thrown their hat in the race. I'm running now to help the city get back on its feet, be better, and stop the decline in effectiveness in our city government," he said. "I believe our leaders want to do the right thing and we need a city auditor that will face the major problems and issues of our time and bring independence and integrity to the position."

Setzler said he is independent of the establishment and believes in collaboration and inclusiveness, and would bring that perspective to the auditor's office.

Find out more about the candidates at:

Straight Talk airs on Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Straight Talk is also available as a podcast.

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