The scramble to succeed Ben Westlund as state treasurer is on, with four candidates entered in the competition by Tuesday’s filing deadline.
Bend’s Chris Telfer announced her interest almost as soon as the news of Westlund’s death broke. Telfer, a Republican state senator and the owner of an accounting firm, said in a press release that “if elected she will use the position to advocate for better fiscal management and financial oversight.”
“As a CPA, my priority is more sound and reasoned fiscal management of our state,” Telfer said. “Oregonians are looking for fiscal leadership right now and my background will ensure the Executive Branch has someone who can read a balance sheet, challenge the status quo mismanagement of taxpayer money, and chart a more sustainable financial course for Oregon.”
On the Democratic side, three people are vying for the nomination: State Sen. Rick Metsger of Welches; Jim Hill, who was state treasurer from 1993 until 2001; and Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler, whom Gov. Ted Kulongoski picked to replace Westlund until a new treasurer can be elected.
Oddly, although Telfer put a lot of emphasis on fiscal management in her announcement, the state treasurer doesn’t really have anything to do with fiscal policy, which involves government taxation and spending decisions.
How much revenue is raised by taxes and how it’s spent are, of course, determined by the governor and the legislature, and sometimes the voters. The treasurer’s office, as described on its website, basically functions as the state’s bookkeeper, keeping track of financial transactions, investments and debts.
It also was kind of strange that Telfer – who described Westlund as “a dear friend of mine” – appeared to be accusing him posthumously of doing a second-rate job by talking about “the status quo mismanagement of taxpayer money.” But let’s be charitable and assume that was just a poor choice of words.