The race for state treasurer became a little less crowded Aug. 15 when incumbent Democrat Chip Flowers announced he was bowing out, leaving Sean Barney as the only Democrat in the race.
In November, Barney will face the winner of the Sept. 9 Republican primary for the treasurer’s office, in which Newark’s Kenneth Simpler is running against Milton’s Cheryl “Sher” Valenzuela.
Q Why are you running for office?
SIMPLER The state treasurer’s office has suffered from day-to-day lack of professional management. The current treasurer has mishandled our state’s $2 billion portfolio, the operational and financial reporting of the office and the leadership of treasury personnel. The solution to these problems is to elect someone as your next state treasurer with a proven capacity to invest billions of dollars, oversee a finance office and manage financial personnel. I have done all these things, and I want to bring my experience, skills and passion for finance to the administration of our state treasury – “a finance guy for a finance job.
VALENZUELA It’s time for change in the treasurer’s office. The question is what kind of change will it be? Do we want someone who will be an advocate for more jobs and economic growth through lower taxes, less spending and common sense regulation … ? Or will we choose a status-quo insider with a demonstrated record of advocating tax hikes like my primary opponent? Unlike my opponent, I’m a conservative. I will use my business experience to be a watchdog for taxpayers, fighting for more jobs and less government, not another do-nothing state treasurer.
Q How has your background and experience prepared you for this office?
SIMPLER I have spent the past 20 years as a finance professional. I managed a $1 billion portfolio for one of the world’s most successful private asset management firms. I oversaw finance personnel on three continents in five major money-center cities. I traveled the globe investing in companies and working to fix their fiscal problems. I serve now as the CFO of a Delaware-based hotel and property management business. In that role, I have day-to-day responsibility for all financial matters. I am the only candidate for state treasurer with the background and experience to be Delaware’s highest-ranking elected finance officer.
VALENZUELA My husband and I have lived the American Dream. After starting our business with one sewing machine in our garage, we now operate a 75,000-square-foot factory in Milford. We make products ranging from protective gear for baseball umpires to materials for the U.S. Air Force and Israeli army. Leaders like ex-state Chamber of Commerce President Joan Verplanck and former DuPont Vice President for Finance Bruce Bachman endorse me. They know under our Constitution, the state treasurer does not make investment decisions for the state. That’s why we need a proven business leader, not a former hedge fund manager, advocating for pro-growth, fiscally responsible policies.
Q What promise are you willing to make to voters if elected?
SIMPLER I will bring the highest levels of professionalism to the treasurer’s office. I will serve full time, for a full term. I will focus on the job – the collection, investment and disbursement of our state monies – not initiatives outside the scope of the position. The example I will set in the treasury will be a benchmark for performance of our state’s other financial functions. I will reform the practices and the processes of the state treasurer’s office and make it a center for excellence in the management and handling of taxpayer monies. Delaware will be “First in Finance” under my leadership.
VALENZUELA Delaware taxes and spending are too high. That’s why I am so troubled by my primary opponent’s past efforts to increase a tax. We need a state treasurer who will say no to more taxes. I will not accept the state pension or insurance and donate my salary to Delaware charities. I will institute a Citizens Watchdog Alert to provide advance notice of job-killing proposals to raise taxes and increase regulation. I will fight to reform our broken Unclaimed Property Fund and utilize technology more wisely to eliminate small paper checks that cost the state more to issue than the checks are even worth.