Bruce Brown campaigns for State Auditor
“The biggest issue for voters to understand is that I really understand multiple use as the way it should be,” says Republican candidate for State Auditor Bruce Brown of Devils Tower when discussing his campaign and how he would use the State Auditor’s position on the Board of Land Commissioners.
Brown is a Certified Public Accountant with an MBA from the University of Wyoming. “There’s a distinct difference between public accounting experience and private industry. I started off in public accounting, but the majority of my time has been spent in private industry accounting as a controller and Chief Financial Officer,” says Brown. “As you look at the State Auditor’s duty as an accountant, that’s exactly what it is – the state’s comptroller and Chief Fiscal Control Officer – so I can take my experience in private industry and plug it into the State Auditor’s office.”
Brown says the State Auditor’s main responsibility is paying the state’s vendors, managing state payrolls and producing financial statements, describing the position as the “accounting watchdog.”
Returning to the subject of state land management, he comments, “I understand ag issues and know how important state land leases are, and just how tied in folks in the ag industry are to the land and keeping the ranch going. You’ve got to be motivated by that to help them. If someone has that much try, and won’t give up, there’s a lesson to learn there. I have a really good appreciation for the ag industry.”
“I’ve watched my brother-in-law, and the things he’s gone through to maintain the family ranch, and I lived on a ranch with the guys I was rodeoing with, and I got a good feel for what it takes to be in production agriculture,” says Brown. “I appreciate how hard I worked, because everyone else was working, and that helped me to define my work ethic as busting it and really working hard, and that’s what I will bring to the State Auditor’s office.”
“We want to make sure we’re managing and using state lands for multiple use, and the ranchers who use the grazing leases are the closest to the land and are the best managers. The best thing we can do for the land at the end of the day is turn over healthy lands to our future generations, so they have something good to work with,” he says.
Brown says he’s not against consolidating state lands, when it makes sense. “If we can consolidate and block those up, we make it better for recreation and make it easier for both ranchers and the State Lands Office to manage, and that’s a good deal.”
In Brown’s opinion, wind energy development on state trust lands is part of the mix. “What I’m really concerned about is making sure we get transmission lines right, and I appreciate the fact that they’re trying to use existing corridors. We have time to get it right. We’ve had wind for a long time, and we’ll have it for a long time into the future,” he explains. “I don’t want to shut it down, or move at a snail’s pace, but we need to step back and do some good analysis of where we think transmission lines should go. We don’t need to jump in too quickly and make rash decisions. It’s not the silver bullet of the energy quandary in which we seem to find ourselves.”
Of what he calls the second of the top two most important boards in which the State Auditor is involved, Brown says he thinks the State Loan and Investment Board needs to make sure it invests in sustainable, viable projects.
“We’ve done a really nice job of building our infrastructure, and we have a lot of empty business parks out there. I’d like to focus on filling those business parks, and working with the Wyoming Business Council to develop an entrepreneur program,” says Brown. “If we can get our young folks to be entrepreneurs in Wyoming we win twice, because we keep our young folks and avoid the ‘brain drain,’ and we fill our business parks with Wyoming businesses run by people who understand how tough it is to do business in the ups and downs we have in this state. The people who survive and hang in there long enough to go through a trough know how tough it is to get to the other side, and they don’t lose sight of why they really started the business.”
Upon taking office, Brown says he’d meet with the 25 staff members who are there now, speaking to those who will stick around and gathering their thoughts and ideas. “Then I’d like to start work on a strategic plan for the next four years, to lay out where I think the office should be, and where it should go.”
He says from there he’d look for inefficiencies. “In the accounting world we’re taught to assess the situation and we what’s there before we go in and start making changes, and I just want to be as efficient as we can.”
Brown says he’d also meet with the State Lands Office about upcoming issues and the Wyoming Business Council about their economic development projects.