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Jackson works to build recognition for W.Va. auditor's race

PARKERSBURG — Growing up in Jefferson County, Tricia Jackson didn’t have much of a challenge making sure residents knew who she was when she ran for a County Commission seat there in 2020.

But now she’s asking voters from all 55 counties to make her the Republican nominee to be West Virginia’s next auditor of state.

“I’ve just been kind of getting around to events, meeting people, getting some name recognition,” Jackson said during a recent visit to Wood County.

She attended a town hall meeting held by Wood County Commission candidate Roger Conley on Feb. 8. It was part of a swing through the Charleston, Parkersburg and Clarksburg areas.

Jackson announced her candidacy for auditor in August 2023 after incumbent J.B. McCuskey threw his hat in the ring for governor before shifting to a run at attorney general. She faces House Majority Leader Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, former Nicholas County Delegate Caleb Hanna and state Sen. Mark Hunt, R-Kanawha, in the May primary. The winner is set to face Democrat Mary Ann Claytor, making her third run for the office, in November.

Jackson spent more than 25 years working in corporate human resources and project and operations management jobs and also has experience in the non-profit sector. She’s the chairwoman of the board for the Blue Ridge Homeschool Co-op, where she teaches classes in West Virginia history and Bible study, and serves on board for the Eastern Panhandle Business Association.

“I have the executive background, which is well-rounded in many areas,” she said. “I think as a commissioner, I’m uniquely qualified.”

County commissioners set and monitor budgets to ensure public funds are used in compliance with state code, Jackson said.

“I think the most important job of the auditor is to be the gatekeeper of the taxpayers’ money,” she said.

Jackson praised the West Virginia Checkbook program established under McCuskey’s watch that provides public oversight of how the state’s funds are spent. She said she would like to make the system “more granular,” so that users could further break down what is spent in particular line items.

For example, a professional services line item might cover a variety of expenses.

“I think we should have a way to disclose actually what was spent on legal, actually what was spent on HR,” Jackson said.

Counties can also share their finances through the site, and she wants to make that uniform so each entity can provide information in as timely a manner as possible. Jefferson County’s system is integrated with the website’s so it updates nightly, but other counties have to enter their data manually, Jackson said.

Transparency can help citizens understand why certain financial decisions are made, as well as reduce fraud and waste, she said.

Jackson said she would also like the finances of organizations that receive public funds – such as economic development offices, boards of health and nonprofits – to be displayed in that manner.

“They need to justify the need for taxpayer funding,” she said. “I think we have to prioritize. … It helps us make better decisions on how we’re going to direct money.”

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