Republican Ashley Swearengin and Democrat Betty Yee each say they have the best experience to be the state’s top fiscal officer. For Swearengin, it’s her six years as mayor of Fresno.
“I bring elected executive experience to the position that my opponent lacks," says Swearengin. "I’m the only one who has ever been directly responsible to the people for leading a major public agency."
“I believe I bring the deeper level of experience to this role," says Yee. "When you’ve been doing public finance for as long as I have, for over 30 years, you begin to develop a sixth sense about when you’re approaching any kind of financial risk.”
Both acknowledge the Controller’s job is primarily a management position – the office pulls in the state’s revenues, pays its bills and audits its agencies. But both say they’d also use the perch as a bully pulpit. And here’s where you can see their views diverge a bit along party lines. For example, Swearengin says she would list all of California’s long-term debts and push for them to be addressed in state budgets.
“I’m very concerned about the businesses that are leaving our state," says Swearengin. "And we know that we won’t see a stable state budget unless we can create an environment that actually supports small businesses and job creation.”
Yee says she wants to play a role in the discussion over whether to extend Proposition 30’s temporary sales and income tax increases from two years ago.
"Even though the economy is recovering, I don’t know that it’s recovered fully enough to where we can count on those revenues being generated by the economy itself," says Yee. "So I think the verdict is still out on that.”
A Field Poll just before Labor Day showed Yee with a 14-point lead. Swearengin is hoping several big newspaper endorsements and a potentially low turnout could help her erase that gap.