The state treasurer's office is like your liver: When it's working well you don't even notice it. But the state treasurer has an important - even vital - job, overseeing more than $65 billion worth of state investments and $120 billion a year in state banking transactions, among other things.
Ted Wheeler was appointed by the governor to fill the treasurer's post in March after the death of Ben Westlund. He's now asking the voters to elect him to finish the rest of Westlund's term, which ends in January 2003. We think he's earned the job.
In less than seven months, Wheeler has quietly accomplished a lot. He's put the state's college savings plan on a more solid footing, hiring a new investment manager and negotiating lower investment fees. He's reined in questionable spending by treasurer's office employees. As a member of the State Land Board, he has pushed for more timber harvesting on state lands to create much-needed jobs for rural Oregonians.
Wheeler also has been willing to use his post as a bully pulpit, publicly warning that the state's debt burden is too heavy and calling on the Legislature to stop borrowing against the general fund.
Wheeler's main opponent, state senator
and former Bend City Councilor Chris Telfer, brings a background in accounting and a couple of good ideas to the table, but she hasn't made a convincing case for replacing the guy who's already got the job and has handled it more than capably.