WATERLOO | Jon Neiderbach wants to be the kind of state auditor not seen by Iowans for generations.
For one, he’s a Democrat.
But more importantly, Neiderbach wants to more fully embrace the duties of state auditor, as set forth in Iowa Code.
“I don’t want to be auditor the way the current auditor is; the position has no interest to me if Iowans simply want somebody looking at financial management. In fact, Mary Mosiman is a better person for that,” Neiderbach said of the current Republican state auditor who is seeking re-election.
He added, “But I think if you look at what the Iowa Code says the position should be doing, then I think I’m the best qualified person in the state of Iowa for it, based upon my background and my passion for it and my interests.”
He said he is running as much to get people talking about the “admittedly esoteric” topic of government efficiency and effectiveness and the auditor’s role in providing that oversight, because of its importance to giving citizens lower taxes and still maintaining – or expanding – services.
Neiderbach, 57, a Des Moines attorney, has years of experience delving into Iowa policy. He worked at the previous incarnation of the Iowa Legislative Services Agency for nearly 15 years, and almost the same amount of time at the Iowa Department of Human Services. He served two terms on the Des Moines School Board, though this is his first bid for statewide office.
Neiderbach said he cares so much about state policies and government effectiveness that he intends to run his campaign like he’s in a race for the governor’s office. He vowed to go to all 99 counties before the June 3 primary election, though he does not expect a challenge. And he will return to the state’s 99 counties before the general election.
Neiderbach said as governments at all levels have sought to cut budgets, one of the first things to go is administrative overhead and the effort to find efficiencies. He said he doesn’t blame Mosiman or her Republican predecessors, but rather the nature of bureaucracies.
But Neiderbach, who says he’s the type of person who likes to read the state code for fun, points to Chapter 11 and the duties of the auditor. Within the code, there are references to not only checking the finances of departments but also weeding out duplication, making recommendations for simplicity and looking for efficiencies.
He said in that sense being a certified public accountant can be a liability, rather than an asset, as accountants are more likely to focus only on the financial aspect.
“If somebody runs on the basis of saying they want to look at effectiveness and efficiency and running in a business-like manner, and they win, it’s awful hard for the legislators to say, ‘No, I’m against effectiveness and efficiency and operating in a business-like manner,’” Neiderbach said.
He said if he wins, he would hope it would be a mandate for more resources for auditors to look into operating a more effective government. Neiderbach also maintains that he will operate a “fiercely independent" office and look just as hard at Democrats’ favorite programs as Republicans’ ones.
According to online information, Iowa has not elected a Democratic state auditor since the 1930s.
More information about Neiderbach is available on his campaign website at www.realtaxpayerswatchdog.com