Massachusetts Auditor Candidate Chris Dempsey Wants to Bring the Office Front and Center
Though it is one of the six constitutional offices in the Commonwealth, which are the statewide elected offices other than U.S. Senator, the State Auditor easily the one that is least known about.
The State Auditor is the watch dog of the Massachusetts government. They conduct audits, investigations, and studies to promote transparency accountability and efficiency in state government.
Since 2011, Suzanne Bump has been quietly but effectively carrying out the duties of auditor, having identified over $1.3 billion in improper government expenditures since taking office in 2011. However, she has decided not to seek reelection, leaving the office open for the 2022 election.
State Auditor candidate Chris Dempsey, a born-and-bred Bostonian with an M.B.A. from Harvard, said he's looking to bring the office from relative obscurity into the spotlight.
Dempsey was previously the Commonwealth's Assistant Secretary of Transportation under Governor Deval Patrick. During his tenure, he founded the MassDOT open-data program which launched smart phone apps that tell commuters what time their bus or train will arrive, the first of its kind on the East Coast.
He then moved to the private sector, serving as Executive Director for Transportation for Massachusetts, a coalition of organizations that advocate for much-needed reforms in Massachusetts transit infrastructure (Dempsey joined me on-air in this capacity last year).
Dempsey is probably best known for spearheading the No Boston Olympics campaign, which despite being outspent 1,500-1 successfully prevented the 2024 Olympic Games from coming to Boston in a deal that would have left Massachusetts taxpayers to foot 100 percent of the bill to host the games. His efforts to stave off this potential economic disaster earned him "Bostonian of the Year" by Boston Globe Magazine in 2015.
Dempsey is running on a three-part plan that focuses primarily on ensuring that the generational investments bestowed upon the Commonwealth through President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Bill is invested responsibly to ensure that we effectively recover from the fallout of the pandemic and foster long-term economic growth.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have our Commonwealth to build back stronger than it was before the pandemic," Dempsey said of the $5.3 billion in Massachusetts ARPA funding. He said he wants to ensure this money is being spent effectively through tracking the dollars in real time and putting metrics in place to ensure of the investments are also being made the pursuit of racial equity and brining opportunity to underserved communities.
"By tracking this money in real time, we can assess if it's being effective at getting done what we want to get done for the people of the Commonwealth, and if not, we can redirect while these dollars are still available to make sure its going to the highest and the best use," he said.
Dempsey also wants to make the auditor's office a national leader in climate accountability by being the first in the country to incorporate carbon accounting into their auditing of governmental agencies, adding that this accounting will be a national model for state agencies across the country in the continued fight to ensure a habitable planet for future generations.
We also talked about the auditor's role in government oversight, what specific plans he has to use the office to help the people of the SouthCoast, and how he would apply his experience in transportation and infrastructure to help create a more navigable Commonwealth.
You can listen to full interview starting at the 22:01 mark below: