State Rep. Scott Conklin eyes run for Pennsylvania’s chief fiscal officer

State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said running for auditor general is an option he is looking at “very closely.”

At last week’s Democratic party state committee meeting, Conklin said he was preparing to run in the 2020 primary election for auditor general, Politics PA first reported. Conklin, who has served the state legislature since 2006, is a former Centre County commissioner with a background in business. He said his political and professional experience would make him a strong candidate.

Having worked at both the county and state levels, Conklin said Thursday that he understands how government operates but also knows what local communities need in order to thrive.

“I’ve had the ability to work with everything that the auditor general does,” he said. “The underlying tasks that the auditor general does, I’m fortunate to have the experience.”

With experience gained and connections made during Conklin’s 2010 run for lieutenant governor, he said he used the summer to travel across the state — visiting at least 40 counties — to connect with potential voters and campaign volunteers.

“I have been fortunate because I’ve run statewide before,” he said. “I’ve been able to meet a lot of young and energetic individuals in other counties. We’ve been reaching out to ask folks if it’s a viable run and if it is something they’d be interested in helping with.”

The support from residents, Conklin said, “has been overwhelming” and “very encouraging.”

“I’m very humbled and touched by how many individuals are willing to help me and the encouragement I’m getting from many of my friends and people I’ve met,” he said.

With an appreciation of past auditor generals, Conklin said he would want to keep as many staff members as possible while working to modernize the office.

“We’ve been blessed over the last 20 years with great auditor generals — including today,” he said. “What I want to do is build on what they’ve done, but I also want to continue the modernization programs ... the office is constantly evolving, and what you have to do is evolve yourself. You have to look at the new technology.”

Conklin said he thinks the auditor general’s office could expand by enhancing local organizations, specifically food banks. If elected, he said he would want to make sure outreach programs, fire companies and community programs know that he is there to help and serve them.

“You can use your voice as auditor general to help,” Conklin said.

Former Deputy Philadelphia Mayor Nina Ahmad, former Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz, non-profit leader and former Lancaster County congressional candidate Christina Hartman and Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb also said they were planning to run for in the 2020 primary at last week’s committee meeting, according to Politics PA.

Current state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced his bid for the state’s 10th Congressional District seat.

Conklin his family and staff will continue to connect with residents, and he said a final decision about launching an official campaign will be made over the holidays.

“As of today, I’m very humbled and touched by how many individuals are willing to help me and the encouragement I’m getting from many of my friends,” he said.

Conklin’s current term in the state House ends in 2020.

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.