Simone Rede becomes next Portland auditor, winning first contested race for city watchdog in decades
Published: May 17, 2022, 8:04 p.m. | oregonlive.com
Simone Rede will become Portland’s next auditor in January after voters overwhelmingly chose her to succeed Mary Hull Caballero, who declined to seek a third term as the city’s elected, independent watchdog.
Rede, a longtime government auditor, was leading certified public accountant Brian Setzler 80%-20%, according to partial returns tallied Tuesday night.
Their competing campaigns marked the first contested race for city auditor in 36 years, though Rede, 39, vastly outraised her opponent and garnered substantial institutional support from an array of business groups, labor unions and newspaper editorial boards.
Setzler, 60, pitched himself as a lifelong progressive with years of both private sector work and community service under his belt.
The auditor’s office, an instrumental but oft-overlooked arm of city government, evaluates the performance of city bureaus and programs controlled by Portland’s mayor and four commissioners, often highlighting waste and mismanagement.
With an annual budget next fiscal year of $9.5 million and a staff of about 40, it also oversees city elections, monitors lobbying activity before City Hall and has historically run the Independent Police Review program.
During the race, Rede and Setzler each insisted that the next auditor must play a vital role in restoring Portlanders’ confidence in City Hall, which has eroded drastically in recent years.
Both promised to raise the visibility of the office, allow a greater diversity of stakeholders to help shape its priorities and hold elected leaders and bureaucrats accountable to the public.
Their greatest differences largely boiled down to experience.
Rede has spent nearly the last decade as a government performance auditor, first with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office and, since 2015, at regional government Metro. By contrast, Setzler has been an accountant the last 30 years and runs his own consulting firm.