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Wayne Johnson is running on the Republican ticket for state auditor. He was appointed to the office in December after former state auditor Tim Keller was elected mayor of Albuquerque Wochit

Wayne Johnson seeks election after being appointed to post

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FARMINGTON — State Auditor Wayne Johnson describes his office as the people’s watchdog.

“I think it’s one of the most important jobs in state government,” Johnson said, although he admitted most people do not know what his role is as state auditor.

The state auditor oversees the government’s processes, including making sure money is spent where it is supposed to be spent and that equipment, such as backhoes, does not disappear.

The office oversees more than 1,300 various entities throughout the state ranging from small acequias to the state Legislature.

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Johnson, who is a Republican, was appointed to the position in December and sworn into office in early January. The previous state auditor left the position after winning the election for mayor of the city of Albuquerque.

He is now running for election against Democratic Party candidate Brian Colón, an Albuquerque attorney. Johnson visited The Daily Times on Friday.

Johnson was first elected to political office in 2010 when he ran for the Bernalillo County Commission and was re-elected in 2014. After an unsuccessful bid for Albuquerque mayor last year, Johnson applied to be the state auditor.

“I’ve always been about transparency in government,” he said.

He said he pushed for a resolution as a Bernalillo County commissioner to increase transparency. That measure later became an ordinance and included posting the names and salaries of county employees on the website.

Johnson said as a small business owner, he always knew how much his employees made and how much of the business’s budget went to salaries.

“In the public sector, the ownership is the public,” he said.

Johnson is beginning a crime audit in the Bernalillo County and Albuquerque areas. He said the audit will look at the different processes in the court and judicial systems. He hopes to produce recommendations to improve the court system.

RELATED: Republican candidates for statewide office visit Farmington

In a letter to the state Office of the Attorney General, 2nd District Chief Judge Nan Nash and Court Executive Officer Jim Noel have challenged Johnson's authority to perform the audit, according to The Albuquerque Journal.

Johnson said he has the authority to do the audit because public funds are used in the court system.

If he is elected, he said he plans to prioritize auditing the state’s guardianship program. The program allows courts to appoint a guardian to oversee financial decisions for senior citizens. That has led to concerns that the guardians could be using the senior citizens for financial profit rather than working in their client’s best interest.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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