There are six candidates for the post of comptroller in the June 7 ballot: tax adviser/educator Lanhee Chen, a Republican; California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Los Angeles City Comptroller Ron Galperin, State Senator Steve Glazer of Orinda and Chief Financial Officer Yvonne Yiu, all Democrats, and financial analyst Laura Wells, Green Party candidate. The first two voters will qualify for a runoff on November 8.
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board sent six-question polls to each candidate and publishes their responses here.
If you have any comments or questions about the election or any of the candidates after reading this interview, please email Director of Editorial and Opinion Matthew T. Hall at [email protected] .com.
Below are Ron Galperin’s answers and a link to other answers.
Q: What about your background makes you the best candidate for this position?
A: Having served nine years as the elected comptroller of California’s largest city, I know the job, its challenges, opportunities and responsibilities. I am the only state comptroller candidate who has actually served as comptroller.
As Los Angeles City Comptroller, I brought sweeping transparency to our city, including our open checkbook, bringing every account online, trackers for every dollar spent, and dashboards measuring performance. . I will do the same for California.
As LA’s CFO, I’ve been an independent voice for fiscal responsibility. I held city officials and departments accountable to taxpayers, changing the way we conduct our audits – with a strong focus on benchmarking, innovation, best practices and next business practices.
When I was first elected in 2013, I brought to the position of Comptroller of Los Angeles experience as a journalist, lawyer and businessman – as well as an understanding of government, having led two commissions to improve our finances and innovate the way we do business. . These experiences provide me with a unique perspective and ability to bring accountability, transparency, and effective leadership to the work of State Comptroller.
I also understand and represent California’s vibrant diversity, as the first elected citywide LGBTQ+ official and the son of immigrants and a Holocaust survivor. And as the father of twins with my husband, I am committed to creating a brighter future for the next generation of Californians.
Q: Rate outgoing Controller Betty Yee. What did she do well or not do well?
A: Each person who takes on the controller role has the opportunity to bring their unique experiences and priorities to the job.
I believe Comptroller Yee has been a committed steward for California taxpayers — in office operations and in his role on more than six dozen boards, commissions and funding authorities. She led environmental issues, reunited beneficiaries with their unclaimed property, and was willing to question the actions and contracts of her fellow state officials.
The advent of COVID-19 has brought notable challenges to the Office of the State Comptroller, as reported more recently in the news. This underscored how crucial it is for the Comptroller and the Office of the Comptroller to be an example of integrity and accountability – as well as the importance of maintaining internal controls and the separation of state powers, even – and especially – in times of crisis.
My intention is to bring my technology focus to address long-standing system failures and bring much-needed transparency, an open checkbook, transparency platform for local jurisdictions, performance dashboards and more. performance-based audit.
Q: California’s payroll computer system is outdated and previous controllers have not been able to resolve the issue. What would you do, if any?
A: There have been a number of large-scale technological errors on the part of the state, including Medi-Cal, the Department of Employment Development, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Information System financial system for California or the Fi$Cal system.
I oversaw significant upgrades and enhancements to our financial management systems and helped transition many disparate “legacy systems” to more centralized and agile platforms for managing financial data. I intend to bring my experience in dealing with these very complex systems to my work at the state level.
My office also led the launch of a new payroll system for 45,000 employees. We did this through the creation of a steering committee that brought together stakeholders from departments across the city to ensure we met all of their needs – and in partnership with technology providers.
In Los Angeles, I also led the city’s open data initiative when I took over as comptroller. I have experience using business intelligence tools, artificial intelligence, data mining and a whole variety of different tools to take information and make it really useful and usable. I intend to do the same for our state.
Q: What are three areas of the office where you would make major changes?
A: Transparency. Our democracy is at stake now, and we need to restore trust in government. It is crucial that we make transparent how taxpayers’ money is spent and the results achieved. I intend to use technology to bring the office into the modern age with much-needed transparency on producing not only financial but also performance-based audits. As LA Comptroller, I launched the first open data portal to detail how every tax dollar is spent on goods, services and city employee salaries, and provide metrics to measure how well services municipalities serve the communities fairly. As State Comptroller, I will bring the same level of transparency to state government.
Performance audits and dashboards. My office has published numerous financial and performance audits on improving public safety, street maintenance, homelessness/housing and awareness, Department of Water and Energy, costs workers’ compensation, illegal dumping pick-up, airport operations, trees, emergency services and more. Audits by their very nature look backwards, when we track data in real time we can uncover waste and fraud before it escalates. As State Comptroller, I will create publicly available real-time dashboards, open data, maps, and tools to hold government accountable.
Tax red teams. Beyond publishing annual reports that provide financial snapshots of thousands of California’s local government agencies, within a year of taking office, I will create multidisciplinary teams of auditors, risk management specialists and municipal finance experts. These teams will be deployed to at-risk cities, counties and special districts to identify the root causes of their financial problems.
Q: Former Comptrollers were not aggressive watchdogs raising concerns about state spending, as seen elsewhere in the United States. What approach would you take to monitor and audit aspects of the work?
A: As CFO of the nation’s second largest city, I have a proven track record of challenging the status quo.
I created a transparent website and virtual checkbook detailing every dollar spent in Los Angeles over the past 10 years.
I’ve uploaded all of LA’s accounts — with the names, emails, and phone numbers of the people responsible.
I denounced the excessive costs associated with the creation of new affordable housing.
I fought waste, fraud and abuse with a dedicated division, quarterly reports and aggressive investigations.
I pursued the truth with targeted investigations – prosecutions and subpoenas if necessary.
I have been partnered with other elected, but still held accountable, our departments, suppliers, workers and employees.
I’ve worked with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to make sure our money is accounted for and used effectively.
As a taxpayer watchdog, I held politicians accountable through reports on homelessness spending. Last week, I announced my homelessness and affordable housing action plan for transparency and accountability. Within 60 days of taking office, I will deploy strike teams to audit state and local government spending related to affordable housing and homelessness. My audits will measure costs and results.
During my first year in office, I will create a centralized hub where the public and state decision makers can view comprehensive reports on how their tax money is allocated to homelessness-related projects and to affordable housing.
As State Comptroller, I will continue to be a relentless and independent force when conducting audits.
Q: Why should voters choose you over your opponents?
A: As a Los Angeles City Comptroller, I understand the scope and limitations of the job, how to use the power of the office, and how to do the job well. My office has published numerous financial and performance audits focused on improving government efficiency and accountability — and delivering quality services.
Beyond understanding the role, I am passionate about the work. I reinvented what a comptroller’s office could be – and I would like to do the same for the state. In Los Angeles, I used my office to advocate for increased equity through our city’s first Equity Index and Pay Equity and Diversity with Equity reports. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we mapped thousands of free food distribution centers and continued to update this resource.
Mine is an aggressive agenda – looking at spending and holding our state (including myself and my office) accountable for delivering results. I want the Comptroller’s Office to be where people can see information they trust, insights and solutions to our biggest challenges.
As State Comptroller, I will serve on more than 70 boards and commissions, including several incredibly powerful commissions that are responsible for managing and protecting California’s precious natural and cultural resources, which will provide the opportunity to demand greater corporate responsibility. I will continue my work to ensure environmental equity and ensure that underserved communities are protected and enjoy the same benefits, regardless of race, income or sexual orientation.