By Guest Blogger Susan Howe, CPA
To many people, the idea of CPAs being involved in politics is anathema. With our reputation for integrity and objectivity, what role is there for a CPA in politics? That’s really the point, though. The public policy and political arena needs all the integrity and objectivity it can get. It also needs diverse voices and viewpoints, along with a healthy dose of reality in the form of monetary facts and figures. CPAs have a unique opportunity to bring badly needed fiscal knowledge coupled with sterling reputations into public discourse.
Women are still heavily outnumbered by men in the political realm, and I think that’s unfortunate. I do not consider myself a political animal; far from it. I dislike the acrimony and lack of courteous discourse that comes with a lot of political activity, and I always felt outgunned in understanding the politics of the workplace. The idea of running for public office makes me shake my head.
However, I have come to understand that politics, like most activities, works better for all when more diverse voices are heard and acknowledged. Politics is not just lobbying and stumping for elections, although that’s certainly part of it. Politics also involves helping elected officials make informed decisions, and working to protect the public interest through legislative activity.
To that end, I would encourage all CPAs, and most especially women CPAs, to get involved in politics.
My own involvement started slowly enough with events like PICPA’s Day on the Hill and AICPA Council activities at the biennial Washington, D.C., council meeting, both of which culminate in visits to legislators. As I gained knowledge and experience, I became more involved by contributing to the PICPA and AICPA political action committees and by joining the PAC board. A few years ago I took on the role of the Chair of the PICPA Fiscal Responsibility Task Force, which regularly puts me in front of legislators and the press discussing issues of public policy.
I’ve found that I really enjoy being an advocate for the profession and for sound fiscal policies in a non-partisan role. In my day job, I’m a tax specialist, but through my advocacy activities I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about topics as diverse as public pensions and how the prevailing wage principle works. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence in standing up in front of the press and legislative committees, and doing the occasional television or radio spot. It’s also kind of cool to meet governors and be on a first name basis with the elected officials we see on TV and read about in the newspapers or online.
More importantly, I believe that by doing my part to speak up for sound fiscal policy and fiscal fairness, I’m helping to build a better tomorrow. This is a gift that we CPAs all can give through our unique knowledge and perspective on fiscal matters. Join me in making a difference. Give to the CPA-PAC, come to Day on the Hill, join the Legislation Committee, or inquire about the CPA-PAC board or the Fiscal Responsibility Task Force. I’m betting you’ll decide politics can be a good thing.
Susan E. S. Howe, CPA, is owner of Howe Advisory in Strafford, Pa. She currently chairs the PICPA Fiscal Responsibility Task Force and Legislation Committee, serves as a member on the Image Enhancement Committee and CPA-PAC, and is a past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter.