Auditor Candidates Look toward November - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 10/02/07

Auditor Candidates Look toward November

By Jon Kalahar
jkalahar@wlbt.net

Mississippi will soon have a new state auditor for the first time in eleven years. 

Republican State Senator Stacey Pickering is running against a former employee of the state auditor's office, Democrat Mike Sumrall. Though both candidates agree on most of the issues facing this job, there's one where they differ.

Both believe the state auditor's office should perform more audits in order to safeguard the taxpayers' money, and they both want to increase their staff and pay them more to bring in the best people possible to work for the state.

"It safeguards the state's tax dollars all over state," said Sumrall. "It plays a part in your life whether you realize it or not. It's just a very important office."

"It's the auditor's office that's on the forefront of protecting us with the checks and balances and at the same time investigating the fraud that takes place and holding those individuals accountable," said Pickering.

Pickering has represented Jones County in the state senate for the last four years. He says with the state's economy growing and more Mississippians working, state government needs to be more efficient and effective.

"What we've got to do is make sure local government is open, honest and transparent and will continue to invest their dollars here," said Pickering.

Sumrall says he's the only candidate with an accounting degree in this race. He believes it's time Mississippi put someone with auditing experience in  the state auditor's office.

"That's been sadly missed in the last 30 years," Sumrall said. "Most of the people have chosen this as a stepping stone and they want to run for governor or lieutenant governor in four years. I just want to be state auditor."

In five weeks we find out who Mississippians want for the job. 

Both candidates are relative newcomers to politics. Pickering was first elected as a state senator in 2003. This is Sumrall's first run for elected office.

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