The race for Metro auditor Ñ not normally a position that voters find all that fascinating Ñ has taken on greater prominence this year because of the controversy surrounding incumbent Alexis Dow.

As detailed in recent stories in the Portland Tribune, some of Dow's peers and former employees have questioned her work habits and a potential conflict of interest.

The most significant complaint is that Dow may have violated the spirit of the Metro charter by accepting at least $35,000 in outside compensation for her work as a board member with Longview Fibre Co. The auditor's position is supposed to be full time, and the Metro charter prohibits moonlighting.

Dow's critics are correct to be concerned about her outside activities, as well as her generous use of a Metro expense account. Voters should give those issues weight in the May 16 election, but they don't need to dwell on Dow's shortcomings to conclude that it's time for a change.

Dow's opponent Ñ Suzanne Flynn, who now serves as Multnomah County auditor Ñ has ample credentials to merit election in her own right. Flynn isn't using Dow's missteps as the rationale for her campaign. Instead, she is relying on her own experience and professional values.

Flynn has worked in the Multnomah County auditor's office for 15 years, starting as a senior management auditor and working her way up to the elected post of county auditor. She jumped into the Metro race less than two months ago and is still formulating her auditing priorities in the event she is elected. Her initial ideas include examining how Metro's regional planning affects local government Ñ a topic we believe might be ripe for exploration.

But beyond any specific audit plans Flynn might advance, we are impressed by the philosophy she would bring to the position. Flynn recognizes that, to have credibility with Metro councilors and the public, an auditor must be willing to listen, learn and demonstrate professional competence and a strong work ethic. Or as she puts it: 'Accountability starts in the auditor's office.'

Incumbent Dow has spent more than 11 years in her post, and she can point to some accomplishments during her tenure. But the public would be best served by a fresh set of eyes and a new attitude toward government accountability. Voters should support Flynn in the May 16 election.

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