In auditor race, others air atypical views

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:24 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Terry Bunker is 46 years old and running for state auditor this November. But he’s not a Democrat or Republican. He never has been. He said the fact that he’s been a Progressive Party member his whole life makes him the right choice for

Missouri voters.

Charles Baum is the other third-party candidate for state auditor. His choice to become a Libertarian came later in life.

“Initially I was a Democrat when I thought they were for the working person. Then I found out that wasn’t really true,” Baum said. “Then I was a Republican when I found out they were for less government. Well, obviously (President) Bush has shown that not to be the case. So the Libertarians offer me the only option.”

Traditionally, most candidates seeking a political office make the obvious choice to run on a major party’s ticket. Both Bunker and Baum, however, said disillusionment with the two-party system inspired them to run.

“I think we need more choices,” Baum said. “I think that the Democrats and Republicans have just become too much the same. They’re all a part of the same big club. They all eat out of the same trough.”

Bunker said he has no real gripes about the way the auditor’s office is run now.

“I’m not suggesting that the current auditor is doing anything wrong,” Bunker said. “But from talking to other people, there’s been a lack of objectiveness in government.”

Bunker is an accountant with State Street Financial in Kansas City. He uses a wheelchair after losing his left arm and right leg when he was electrocuted while working as an electrician in 1983. And while he said that gathering signatures and money is a physical challenge for him, he’s surprised by the amount of support he’s received.

“I sense that people are looking for a change. They’re not happy with the status quo,” Bunker said. “I think people are really starting to consider that maybe we need a fresh start.”

Bunker said that, as a Progressive, he would conduct more energy audits if elected. Government buildings and vehicles, he said, would be a good place to start looking at energy conservation.

“We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” he said. “And I think we need to consider global warming.”

Baum is a financial planner with Renaissance Financial in St. Louis. He’s also a former math teacher at a junior high school. He has taken more of a laissez-faire approach to campaigning. He said he’s not actively raising money or aggressively trying to get his name out.

“If I (raise) more than $500, I got to fill out a bunch of forms, and I’m not interested in getting that involved in it,” he said. “I’m relying on intelligent, informed voters rather than people that respond to 15-second advertisements or yard signs.”

“I just thought this would be an interesting experience,” he added.

Baum said he has no plans to audit particular agencies if elected.

“As I got into the position, I would become more informed on the various issues that are going on,” he said.

But Baum added that he thinks he would be a very unpopular auditor, and that’s how it should be.

“If I look at a particular program and it’s not effectively delivering what it’s supposed to do, then I think I would like to be more aggressive in getting rid of that program, which is always unpopular because it entails people losing their jobs, but it also entails saving the taxpayer money,” he said.

Baum said he knows that the state auditor’s job is not to “get rid” of programs, but to report on them.

“I don’t know that I would be able to change that,” he said. “But that’s one of my goals.”

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