Kelsey Hayes Coots | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Kelsey Hayes Coots

Political party: 
Democrat
Question 1: 

What is your vision for the role of the Kentucky Auditor? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you are elected?

My vision for the role of the Kentucky Auditor is really two-fold. First, I want to return the Auditor’s office to being the proactive, effective watchdog for Kentuckians’ taxpayer dollars that it is meant to be. Former Auditor Crit Luallen is the standard bearer. While the office can provide additional oversight on public pensions - and should do that- the scope of the office is much larger. We need to ensure that tax dollars throughout state and local government are being used in an appropriate, effective and legal way.  The office can increase or diminish the trust Kentuckians have in government, at the local and state level.  Government can play a stronger role in our progress when there is more trust.   On important policy topics like public education and healthcare, we should consider using Special Examinations in those areas to root out corruption and inefficiency and ensure those critical dollars are having maximum impact.

Second, I want to democratize the Auditor’s office to make it more transparent, accessible and accountable to Kentucky’s taxpayers. Any Kentuckian should be able to access a user-friendly website,  find and understand the Auditor’s reports and should be able to get updates regarding the public offices that impact them, be it state or local. I also believe the SAFE-House program - a program where citizens can anonymously report waste, fraud and abuse- should be expanded.  We need to aggressively seek out and hold accountable bad actors, and find examples of good public servants and elevate their work

The Commonwealth will be better in four years if I am elected because not only will I make the office more transparent and accessible to all Kentuckians, I will help to restore trust and faith in government. Ill work to 

find and hold accountable bad actors.  I will not only save taxpayer dollars from being lost to waste, fraud and inefficiency, but in being an aggressive watchdog, I will help deter future abuse. Also, Kentuckians will be able to to better understand where their taxpayers dollars are going, while being assured they are being used as efficiently as possible.  They will be able to access and understand the auditor's reports.   All of this work will help restore trust in government, and better allow our government to play the role it can play in our collective progress.

Question 2: 

Please highlight previous experience that qualifies you for serving in this office.

As a result of my upbringing, I’ve lead throughout my life - as a student, athlete, at the University of Kentucky and in the school in which I work.  Right now, I lead my team, and department and serve on the Site Based Decision Making council at school. Last year I was fortunate enough to be selected by my peers at Teacher of the Year.  I’ve lead KY120United/120 Strong in direct action to help stop attacks on public education as the Zone 3 (Louisville) leader. I have the most experience leading teams, and will bring that experience and my passion for service and good government to the office.  I’m most equipped to bring a vision for an effective office to reality, and I look forward to the challenge.

Question 3: 

What steps have you taken or would you take to fight political corruption in Kentucky?

As I mentioned, I have been an organizer for the Zone 3 (Louisville) group of KY120United. Throughout my time as the Zone 3 lead, my eyes have been opened (even more) to how bad government and misguided leaders can harm people’s lives and livelihoods. Over the past year, I have stood shoulder to shoulder with teachers and public employees as we have demanded that our elections serve the people, not charter school lobbyists or monied interests. 

In the Auditor’s office, I plan to expand the SAFE house program - a program that allows citizens to anonymously report corruption, waste, fraud and abuse in state and local government.  We need to increase the awareness of this program so we can root out bad actors and make examples of them.  Also, by making the auditor’s reports more accessible and easier to understand, Ill equip our citizens to help us fight corruption and shine more light into our public offices.

Question 4: 

What steps have you taken or would you take to ensure open, fair and transparent operations of state and local government, schools, and other public institutions?

Kentuckians deserve a government we can trust.  A trusted government is an effective government, more capable of playing a key role in our progress. As an experienced leader, I will make the Auditor’s office into a place that delivers transparency and effectiveness.  

I will be an independent watchdog for Kentuckians, focusing on government transparency, efficiency and accountability. I have a clear vision for the Auditor’s office and a track record of being an exemplary leader. I will drive the Auditor’s team and bring this vision into reality, and restore trust and faith in government.

From my platform: 

  • Increasing Transparency
  • Sunlight in government is often called “the great disinfectant” and we know that transparency builds trust. Kentuckians deserve to know where their tax dollars are being spent.
  • To increase transparency in the Auditor’s office, and in state and local government, I will: 
  • Publish expenses of the Auditor’s office online 
  • Implement a text/email alert program for Kentuckians to be able to receive audits related to their county, and any other areas of interest, as soon as they are released
  • Modernize the Auditor’s website to ensure that it is accessible and navigable for all
  • Create simple and easy to understand audit cover reports that accompany full audits to better communicate findings to taxpayers
  • Utilize multiple mediums - infographics, videos, etc. - to explain audit findings in a comprehensible way
  • Strengthening Accountability
  • Entities that receive taxpayer dollars, and the folks that lead those offices,  must be accountable to the people. While we will identify and deal with bad actors, we will also elevate the public servants doing good, ethical work in state and local government.   
  • To strengthen accountability in the Auditor’s office, and in state and local government I will:
  • Increase the awareness of the SAFE-house program, the program that provides a safe and secure way for taxpayers to anonymously self-report waste, fraud and abuse 
  • Create a “Good Government” recognition program for entities and leaders that are doing good, ethical and efficient work
  • Empower citizen auditors across communities in Kentucky to monitor how taxpayer dollars are spent by creating a hub of informational resources to aid them in monitoring their government