Ceremonial Swearing-in of Jennifer McGuirk as Multnomah County Auditor
January 3, 2019
County Auditor’s Remarks
I’m Jennifer McGuirk, and I am your Multnomah County Auditor. It has been a long journey since I announced my candidacy to being able to say that today. And as with all journeys, it has been defined by the path I chose and those who honored me by taking that journey with me.
I am so grateful to all of those people, and I want to recognize them today:
● My amazing husband and children,
● My parents and parents-in-law,
● Dear neighbors and friends – some whom I’ve known for nearly all of my life, and new ones I met along this journey,
● My amazing volunteer team,
● Everyone at Emerge Oregon,
● Workers of all kinds, here and outside County government,
● Former and current elected leaders,
● Fellow auditors,
● Community advocates,
● And members of diverse communities across our County.
Without the support of these many, many people, I would not be here speaking with you today.
And that, of course, brings me to the voters. This was a rare election for County Auditor where voters had a choice among candidates, and I am honored and humbled that our County’s voters chose me.
The result indicates that County constituents broadly support my vision for auditing – both the audits I’ve pledged to start this year, as well as the values that will guide my time in office. With this election, voters have stated that they want a strong audit function at the County. One focused on ensuring accountable, transparent government and on auditing programs that directly impact people’s health and safety. Voters said they want an audit function that incorporates equity and includes the voices of underserved populations as a consistent practice in our work. They said they want an Auditor who connects regularly with communities across our County. Earning the confidence and trust of voters has been immensely humbling because I know voters now expect me to deliver. And I will remain focused on that every day that I am your County Auditor.
But I won’t do it alone.
I will do it with a team of auditors, one that is skilled, wise, and dedicated to public service. We are independent and objective. Our independence means that we answer to County residents rather than elected officials. Our objectivity means that we are not biased toward a particular outcome in any audit. We follow the interviews, the research, the onsite observations, and the data. We follow the facts to their logical conclusion. And as I said many, many times during my campaign, facts matter.
County programs help people. We see and acknowledge the value and importance of these programs, and we are nearly always impressed by the dedication of County employees. But we are also tasked with looking critically to identify barriers and obstacles that impede the County’s mission to help people. And after careful, sometimes long deliberation in our office, and an intense fact-checking process, we raise the problems that need to be fixed. And we raise these problems hopeful that County leadership will address them.
I believe that my fellow elected officials share my deep dedication to our constituents, and so I am confident that in the spirit of leadership they will take our recommendations to heart and move quickly to make changes that make our government better. Changes that help ensure all County employees work in environments free from harassment and discrimination, and thus are better able to serve the vulnerable people who are on the receiving end of County services. Changes that help ensure County residents consistently see real results for our taxpayer dollars.
After all, I’m accountable to our county residents, today and always. Because I work for you. And with you. By working together we can maintain the focus and urgency needed to bring about change, and together we can recognize our other County leaders when they make the changes our communities need.
Auditors have an unenviable, but honorable obligation to speak truths that are sometimes unpleasant and very often are uncomfortable. The Auditor’s work is about sitting in those uncomfortable spaces. We give voice to the problems that everybody seems to know about but aren’t acknowledged openly. We illuminate problems that people may feel most comfortable ignoring. Please know that shining a light on what is not working does not erase all that is going well at the County, like the commitment to public service that binds all of our County employees. The Auditor’s work is critically important because it is only by being honest about the problems we face that we can truly improve our government for all of us.
I am so grateful to voters across the County for entrusting this work to me.