New state auditor in town today

YOUNGSTOWN — Being the only elected Republican in the state’s executive branch can make one feel lonely.

But Auditor Mary Taylor said Friday that isn’t the case with her. There is a great spirit of cooperation among her and the Democrats elected in November to the executive branch — Gov. Ted Strickland, Attorney General Marc Dann, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Treasurer Richard Cordray.

“We’re working in a professional manner and have set aside partisan politics to do what’s best for Ohio,” Taylor told The Vindicator during an interview today.

The four attended Taylor’s inauguration.

While in Youngstown, Taylor, whose four-year term began Jan. 8, visited the auditor’s regional office on West Federal Street and met with Youngstown State University President David C. Sweet.

Taylor said she expects her office to be busy handling not only financial statement audits of local governments, but also performance audits that detail the strengths and deficiencies on a number of state agencies.

Taylor said Dann and Brunner have asked her to perform performance audits on their offices.

Brunner has said Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell, her predecessor, left her office in poor shape by spending too much money and not properly handling his responsibilities. Dann hasn’t complained about his predecessor, Republican Jim Petro, but wants to make sure the attorney general’s office runs as efficiently as possible.

The state auditor’s office employs about 850 to 900 people at its Columbus office and eight regional offices. Taylor is replacing some of the office’s senior staffers, but doesn’t plan to make “wholesale changes.”

“We have many people in the office who’ve worked there for 20-plus years,” Taylor said.

Because of her victory in November, there is already talk about Taylor being the Republican nominee for governor in 2010.

Taylor, the first certified public accountant elected Ohio auditor, said she’s flattered by the discussion, but she plans to run for re-election in 2010.

“I hope to do a good job over the next four years so Ohioans will want to have me stay as auditor,” Taylor said.

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