Arizona state treasurer candidates split over role

by Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Arizona Republic

This year's candidates for state treasurer agree Arizona's budget is in crisis.

And that is where their similarities end.

The race is between Democratic candidate Andrei Cherny and Republican hopeful Doug Ducey.

Cherny is a former Arizona assistant attorney general and a former economic adviser to former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

Ducey, former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, is making his first run for public office.

Cherny said he has had a set of experiences that work together for the role as treasurer, such as prosecuting corporate crime and founding "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas," a quarterly political journal and think tank.

Ducey said he will use his experiences in the private sector to bring fresh energy and a business approach to state government.

The treasurer is the state's chief financial officer and manages Arizona's revenue, expenses and $9.7 billion investment portfolio. The treasurer is third in line of succession to the governor.

Libertarian candidate Thane Eichenauer and Green Party candidate Thomas Meadows also are running for treasurer, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, but neither is actively campaigning.

Both Cherny and Ducey offer different ideas for running the office.

On treasurer's role

Cherny said he wants to audit government spending, quoting the Office of the State Treasurer's website, which states that the Treasurer's Office has "audit authority over all state finances."

He said that there is a culture of misuse in the Legislature, and he will use his experience prosecuting financial fraud to hold the government accountable for its expenditures.

In auditing the state's spending, Cherny said, the treasurer would be able to identify programs that are not working, and prioritize which areas to cut or expand.

Ducey said the treasurer's role is to be a prudent manager of the state's finances and called auditing "dangerous and risky."

An elected official should not be auditing other branches of government because it would create room for abuse, Ducey said.

He said he would bring transparency to the office by creating a searchable database on the treasurer's website so that Arizonans can track government spending.

On investments and job creation

The two candidates agree that the state treasurer needs to make safe investments and minimize risk.

If elected, Cherny would invest in local industries such as solar, biotech and high-tech.

He said Arizona should invest in local companies such as P.F. Chang's China Bistro and US Airways to generate high rates of returns, rather than investing in Wall Street.

Ducey said he would diversify state investments across different sectors and industries to minimize the effects of downturns.

According to Cherny, investing in local companies would help create jobs within the state.

Ducey has a different idea for job creation: to work with large American companies with headquarters in California and Nevada and persuade them to relocate their headquarters to Arizona.

He said he would work with the governor to show non-Arizona businesses that the quality of life in the state is high.


Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2010/10/04/2...

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