Quietly, an accountant is running one of the most important statewide races that, while under-the-radar, is hugely impactful to all Texans.
The Signal spoke with Janet Dudding in between campaign stops in her race for comptroller. Our first question immediately produced a laugh. What does a comptroller do?
According to Dudding, “the comptroller is the state accountant.” It’s hard to believe, but Texas has never actually had a CPA as the state comptroller. That could change if Dudding is elected in November.
Dudding has spent over 35 years accounting in state and local government. She has a ton of experience with white collar crime, audits, and investigations. But one of the main reasons she is running has to do with something that the comptroller has unique powers over: climate change.
While Dudding is interested in increasing renewable energy at the state and residential level through traditional wind and solar, she would also like to explore new opportunities with geothermal. The comptroller has a lot of power when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, which is quite personal to Dudding.
She and her husband moved to Texas after experiencing Hurricane Katrina in the Mississippi Delta. “You go through one of those things and it gets really personal to you,” she says. “In Texas we haven’t done enough to mitigate the root causes and the risks involved in climate change.”
Dudding is running on a host of other issues that fall under the purview of the comptroller, including property tax appraisals, expanding Medicaid, and legalizing cannabis. That last issue for Dudding seems like a no-brainer. “The one should be low-hanging fruit,” she says.
Dudding notes that our neighbor New Mexico has lines stretching out the door for people to purchase legal cannabis. But the minute they cross state lines, they’ve committed a felony. Not only does she want Texas to start profiting off a new revenue stream, but she’d also like for decriminalization to become a priority.
As she travels across the state, Dudding has been pleasantly surprised at the interest in a race for a position many have never heard of. She credits that to potential constituents just wanting to have statewide officials that have their best interests at heart. “Right now, “[Texans] feel played, they don’t feel they’re cared about, they don’t feel like they’re being listened to,” says Dudding.
While Texas is the second largest economy in the nation, in many ways the state is failing its citizens. Dudding points out that Texas ranks 45th in public education, 43rd in public health, and 41st in air and water quality. “We are the ninth largest economy [in the world], and we deserve world class services.”
She has also had several conversations with potential constituents about the extremism of the Republican party. Many people have approached her with horror stories relating to the state’s many abortions bans. Her opponent, the incumbent Glenn Hegar, was the author of the anti-abortion bill then state senator Wendy Davis filibustered in 2013.
Dudding tells Texans who are afraid about the direction of the state, that they have a different option in less than fifty days. There’s a slate of democratic candidates up and down the ballot that they can vote for. “There’s a choice this year to vote for what you want.”
The last day to register to vote in November’s election is October 11. Early voting begins on October 24.