With the Sept. 6 primary drawing near, Democratic candidates for Massachusetts auditor, Diana DiZoglio and Chris Dempsey participated in a debate on GBH’s Greater Boston Monday night to make their case to voters. GBH News Politics Editor Peter Kadzis joined Morning Edition hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel Tuesday morning to offer his analysis of the debate. You can watch more GBH debates ahead of the primaries here.

Who is running?

On the Democratic side, State Sen. Diana DiZoglio and Chris Dempsey, the former assistant secretary of transportation under Gov. Deval Patrick, are vying for the position. The winner will face off against the only Republican candidate on the ballot, Anthony Amore, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s director of security, in the November election. Because the Republican primary race is uncontested, the GBH debate held Aug. 8 included only the Democratic candidates.

The current auditor, Suzanne Bump, has been in office since 2011. She is not seeking re-election and has endorsed Dempsey.

What does the state auditor do?

“In simple terms, the state auditor is in charge of quality control for state government,” Kadzis said. There have been some disagreements in state government about which agencies the auditor has power over, and whether the auditor can oversee the legislature. But the auditor can oversee other state departments, from the ones responsible for roads and public transit to the people in charge of collecting taxes, administering MassHealth and running the state’s prisons.

What were the biggest issues at Monday’s debate?

The word “transparency” was thrown around a lot, Kadzis said.

“Transparency is one of the big buzzwords in politics today, and it's often overused, but it is not overused in terms of the auditor because the state auditor stands between governments and the voters,” Kadzis said.

DiZoglio pointed out that when he was a Brookline town meeting member, Dempsey voted not to ban nondisclosure agreements dealing with sexual harassment and discrimination. DiZoglio herself has been vocal about being a survivor of sexual harassment as a legislative aide before she was herself elected to the legislature, and had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that barred her from discussing her experience to receive a severance package.

“I don't believe that we should be using tax dollars to cover up any sort of abuse, harassment or discrimination of any kind,” she said during Monday’s debate. “And for the auditor to say, or an auditor candidate to say, that they don't support transparency and accountability surrounding these agreements and that they support the abuse of tax dollars going to silence victims of harassment and discrimination and protect powerful perpetrators and powerful politicians, is absolutely unacceptable.”

Dempsey said Dizoglio “has her facts wrong on this,” and claimed he did not vote for the ban in Brookline because he believed it would afford people who received settlements after experiencing sexual harassment or assault on the job more privacy.

“When you cut through all the smoke on that, these two candidates have their own very deeply held beliefs,” Kadzis said. “DiZoglio, who was herself a victim of sexual harassment, believes that there should be no nondisclosure agreements. Dempsey, on the other hand, says it should be up to the victim to decide whether they have it.”

Kadzis pointed to another way transparency showed up in the race: During every election cycle, interest groups like unions and business organizations send candidates questionnaires to help determine their endorsements, which sometimes come with considerable campaign resources. Dempsey’s campaign published all of his questionnaires on his website.

“This prompted the Boston Globe to editorialize that every candidate for statewide office should make these public, that there should be no secret agreements between interest groups and candidates,” Kadzis said. “And I think that is, to date, maybe the high point of the auditor's campaign.”

What are the key differences between the candidates?

Both candidates said they would audit the MBTA. DiZoglio said one of her first moves would be an audit of state agencies and their contracting process with the goal of increasing equity and saving money. Dempsey said he would focus on the State Police.

“I hate to be a spoiler. I don't think it represents much of a divide,” Kadzis said.

It may come down to who can capture voters’ attention.

“Traditionally, even among people who vote, maybe as many as one in 10 voters just blank the auditor” on their ballots, Kadzis said. “So I don't blame the candidates for trying to, you know, grab people by the head and shake them to get their attention. But for auditor, for attorney general, for most statewide offices in the primaries, in the Democratic primaries, everyone is arguing in a very narrow band. There's a basic progressive ideology that most — not all, but most — statewide Democratic candidates hold. Now, I'm speaking from almost 50 years experience of, you know, watching these debates. So I tend not to get excited about all the fire. I try to focus on what light there is.”

Who won the Massachusetts auditor’s debate?

It’s a close call, Kadzis said.

“I think they both presented themselves very well,” Kadzis said. “DiZoglio styles herself as a bomb thrower, Dempsey styles himself as a dissident you can work with. And if you look at who has endorsed them, you'll see that a number of public officials have endorsed Dempsey. A number of big unions have endorsed DiZoglio. And to be honest, I think in this instance, in this particular race, who has endorsed whom might tell the voters more than anything else.”

Watch the full debate here: