Dover CPA joins growing list of candidates for state auditor

Republican candidate for state auditor Joan Winters has been a practicing public accounting in Dover at Mitten & Winters, CPAs. She also serves as the only CPA on Delaware’s Tax Appeal Board. Special to the Delaware State News

DOVER — Joan Winters believes the timing is perfect to throw her hat into the ring for the office of state auditor of Delaware.

Mrs. Winters became the only Republican candidate thus far to enter the race for State Auditor when she announced her candidacy on Tuesday.

The Dover resident is hoping voters will trust her experience to fill the role of current State Auditor Tom Wagner, who is not seeking re-election this year due to health concerns after nearly three decades in office.

“I have decided to run for Delaware State Auditor,” said Mrs. Winters, of Dover. “I am delighted to represent the (Republican) Party and I will not let you down. I will say I am not a politician, I’m a CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

“I have 35 years of experience and during my 35-year career I have been exposed to every aspect of accounting, including auditing, reviewing financial statements, analyzing, budgeting, supervising employees and strengthening internal controls for my clients.”

For the past 27 years, Mrs. Winters has been practicing public accounting in Dover at Mitten & Winters, CPAs. She also serves as the only CPA on Delaware’s Tax Appeal Board, which she’s done for the past 18 years.

Mr. Wagner announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.

“It would not be fair to the citizens of Delaware or the Republican Party to run for re-election knowing that I cannot dedicate 110 percent of my time and energy to this critical role in state government,” Mr. Wagner, 62, said in a statement.

When Mrs. Winters heard that Mr. Wagner wasn’t seeking re-election, she knew the time was right for her to step up.

“When Tom Wagner, whom I’ve known for 30 years, announced that he would not run for re-election, I thought about who would step forward to continue his great record of service,” said Mrs. Winters, who earned her degree in Accounting from Villanova University. “We need qualified experience to protect the spending of our tax dollars.”

Mrs. Winters said her roles on both Delaware’s Tax Appeal Board (18 years) and as a board member and treasurer of the Friends of Woodburn Inc. for the past 20 years have allowed her to work across political aisles.

“The auditor’s role is not a political position – it’s not a partisan position,” she said. “The auditor is Delaware’s watchdog. We oversee the state’s spending and we ensure that the financial statements are accurately reported.

“The auditor should have qualities of education, experience, integrity and independence. I possess all of those qualities.”

Mrs. Winters will be running against one of at least three Democrat candidates in November’s election: Dennis E. Williams, Kathleen Davies and Kathy McGuiness.

Mrs. Winters said she has the support of her family, her clients and her employees to chase another dream as “Delaware’s watchdog.”

“My 35 years of experience in many types and sizes of industries and all phases of accounting — reviewing and analyzing financial statements, overseeing installation of accounting systems, and understanding internal accounting procedures — makes me qualified to do this job,” she said.

“The best state auditor is one that has no connection to the Democratic majority. As State Auditor, I will maintain my integrity and independence while working hard to do what I’ve been trained to do.”

Thanks in part to automation; the Office of Auditor of Accounts has gone from 57 employees to 21. The state budget, meanwhile, has grown several times over.

Ms. Winters hopes to change that if elected.

“I do know they are understaffed,” Ms. Winters said. “I think they are allowed to hire more people, so my goal is to get the staff in there without exceeding the budget or whatever the budget allows.”

“Also the office has analytical software, which gives you real time deviation from the norm as far as financial information and they haven’t had a chance to learn that system as that’s a goal of mine as well.

“I just want to make sure that the money being used the way it’s supposed to be,” she said. “I know they’re in session right now handling the budget, so once that goes through if elected I want to make sure the agencies are spending the money the way they represented to the legislative hall.”

Ms. Winters believes she has what it takes to be a great auditor if elected.

“Politics has been the furthest thing from my mind,” Ms. Winters said. “I’m still working and maintaining my clients. It’s whole new world for me, but I’m learning every step of the way.

“People have been supportive really supportive. I plan on being the next state auditor. I’m going to work as hard as I can to let people know that I’m the real deal. I’m good at what I do and I plan to bring all of my experience and knowledge to the table if I’m elected.”

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