Ex-state representative says he’ll seek Delaware auditor post

DOVER — Former state Rep. Dennis E. Williams announced Wednesday he plans to run for state auditor.

The auditor’s post is currently held by Tom Wagner, a Republican who has held the office since 1989 but has not publicly stated whether he will seek another term next year.

Dennis E. Williams

Mr. Wagner could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mr. Williams, a Democrat, served in the General Assembly from 2008 to 2014, representing the 10th District, which covers a section of northeast New Castle County along the Pennsylvania line.

He was defeated by current Rep. Sean Matthews in a primary in 2014 and again in a 2016 bid for the seat.

Mr. Williams said people have encouraged him to run for auditor for years but he declined in 2010 and 2014 because he was already in elected office.

“I’ve been frustrated watching what’s been happening in Dover as they’ve struggled to balance the budget and I’ve always felt that the auditor position was underutilized,” he said. “There’s great potential to find savings.”

The auditor of accounts is the state’s financial watchdog, keeping an eye out for fraud, waste and abuse. It is one of two statewide offices currently held by Republicans.

Mr. Williams said he has been involved in the accounting and finance fields for more than 30 years and pointed to his two-year tenure on the Joint Bond Committee as a qualification.

He currently works as the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s chief financial officer and has degrees in accounting and financial management from the University of Delaware, as well as a master’s degree in technology management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Williams said he believes he can find smarter ways to spend state dollars, reducing the pressures on the budget, although he said he could not quantify how much money could be saved.

“He’s been in the position so long that I don’t think he’s been exposed to newer processes and newer technology which will help state departments do their job more efficiently,” he said of Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Williams ran as the Democratic nominee for Congress in 1998 and 2000, losing by large margins both times.

Although Mr. Wagner has for years beat back Democrats with financial and voter registration advantages, Mr. Williams expressed confidence about his chances.

“I just think that I have the qualifications and the experience and the understanding to do this,” he said.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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