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Ohio state auditor nominees Keith Faber, Zack Space to debate Friday

October 17, 2018

Ohio state auditor nominees Keith Faber, Zack Space to debate Friday

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The major-party nominees to be the new ethics watchdog of Ohio government are set to hold their only debate of the campaign on Friday in Zanesville.

State auditor hopefuls Keith Faber, a Mercer County Republican, and Zack Space, a Tuscarawas County Democrat, are scheduled to square off at noon in an hour-long debate at Zane State College’s Advanced Science & Technology Center. Cleveland.com politics reporter Jeremy Pelzer is slated to moderate the event, which will be streamed live online by WHIZ-TV.

If there is a question you would like Faber and Space to answer during the debate, please submit it by 5 p.m. Thursday to jpelzer@cleveland.com. Pelzer will select a number of questions submitted by the public to ask of the two candidates.

Faber, Space, and Libertarian Robert Coogan are running to take over the auditor’s office from term-limited Republican Dave Yost, who’s running for attorney general this year.

The state auditor’s office conducts audits of more than 6,000 state and local government agencies, offers financial services to local governments and promotes government transparency.

Whoever’s elected auditor this year will also play a role in how Ohio’s legislature (and possibly the state’s congressional delegation) will look in the coming decade. That’s because the state auditor serves on the state’s new redistricting commission, which will draw lines for Ohio House and Senate districts following the 2020 census. (The commission will also draw new congressional district boundaries if the legislature becomes deadlocked on passing a plan).

Space’s campaign previously pushed to hold five public debates this fall. Faber’s campaign, meanwhile, proposed three meetings – including Friday’s debate in Zanesville and a joint interview held last month with the cleveland.com/Plain Dealer editorial board that wasn’t open to the public.

Coogan, a retired certified public accountant from Butler County who previously served as a vice president of internal audit at Cincinnati Bell Inc., was not invited to participate in Friday’s debate.

The Libertarian nominee told cleveland.com that he is “extremely disappointed by the organizers and the two major parties themselves that they have excluded from the debate the only candidate who is an auditor.”

When Coogan was asked what he would say on the debate stage if he was invited, he replied that if elected he would (among other things) audit Ohio’s charter schools to ensure they’re running effectively and urge lawmakers to allow the auditor’s office to review JobsOhio, the state’s private, non-profit economic development agency.

“I would bring objectivity to the position and a non-biased perspective on issues and positions that would come before the auditor of state,” Coogan said.