Nicole Galloway is the best choice for the critical post of Missouri auditor

Missouri voters should elect Nicole Galloway as the state’s auditor.

Galloway holds that vital office now and is seeking her first election to the post. She was appointed by former Gov. Jay Nixon in 2015 and has served there with distinction for three years.

Her performance has been exemplary, and the list of her accomplishments is long. She was deeply involved in uncovering a massive and potentially fraudulent billing scheme at a small hospital in Putnam County, Mo. She has worked to increase transparency in community improvement districts, an obscure economic development tool that takes taxpayers’ money.

Galloway, a Democrat, has fought undisclosed campaign contributions — so-called “dark money.” She criticized Nixon for letting state boards and commissions languish during his time in office, a refreshing display of independence.

Her office keeps a close eye on spending in cities and counties. She’s auditing spending in Jackson County and Clay County, critical studies that should be made public next year.

The auditor’s office has saved taxpayers and Missourians millions of dollars. Galloway, a certified public accountant, has demonstrated a firm understanding of the auditor’s role, and deserves election on that basis.

Her opponent is Republican Saundra McDowelln and voters should firmly reject her candidacy.

McDowell, who declined to interview with The Star’s editorial board, appears to have exaggerated her role with the office of Missouri’s former attorney general, Chris Koster. She may not have established a residence in Missouri soon enough to qualify for the auditor’s job, a problem that could become a legal headache if she’s elected.

She claimed a Kansas address in 2013, according to court records. The Missouri Constitution requires the auditor to have been a resident for 10 years at the time of the election.

McDowell’s personal financial mistakes, including missed payments on an opulent home, are a major concern for someone who wants to be an auditor. Her excuse for those problems — President Barack Obama’s “stagnant economy” — is laughable.

McDowell has shown little aptitude for the job she seeks. And both her professional and personal history raise serious questions about her credibility and competence.

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While voters may be tempted to skip over this race or to vote by party instead of considering the individual candidates, Missourians should pay close attention to this critical decision.

If voters approve Amendment 1, which would change the way legislative districts are drawn in Missouri, the next auditor would play a critical role in the redistricting process.

That new map must be absolutely free of partisan interference. While Galloway is a Democrat, she has proved to be an independent and honest broker in this job, and she has pledged to take a a nonpartisan approach to these responsibilities. Missourians should hold her to that promise.

What they should not do is support a candidate — Saundra McDowell — who can’t do the job. Missourians should cast their votes for Nicole Galloway on Tuesday.

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