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Treasurer candidates offer stances on issues

Monday, July 14, 2008 | 8:05 p.m. CDT; updated 4:20 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Andria Simckes

WHAT’S THE JOB?

The state treasurer is Missouri’s chief financial officer. The treasurer manages $19 billion in annual state revenue, $3.1 billion in investments and directs state banking services. The office safeguards more than $220 million in unclaimed assets and tries to find the rightful owners. The treasurer also serves on the management boards of several public entities. The treasurer serves a four-year term and is paid $104,608 per year.


St. Louis

PERSONAL: Age 37, married to David Elan Simckes. They are raising four children who are 19, 7, 5 and 3.

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: www.simckesfortreasurer.com

OCCUPATION: Private practice attorney in Clayton.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in American civilization with a focus on race, gender, class and ethnicity from Brown University, 1993; juris doctorate from Washington University School of Law, 1996.

BACKGROUND: Missouri civilian delegate to the 46th Annual U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar; co-chair of the 2003 Care and Counseling’s Annual Benefit Dinner; member of congregation Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel; Care and Counseling Board of Directors from 2001 and to 2007; Care and Counseling Advisory Council 2004 and 2007; food and facilities chairwoman for the Third Annual Women’s Shabbaton Retreat; committee member for the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council’s Investors Group of the St. Louis Regional Jobs Initiative; member of the Legislative Black Caucus Foundation; the Women’s Political Caucus; Rotary International; the National Association of Extradition Officials; the Pro Bono Society and the Women’s Law Student Association.

ISSUES

HOME OWNERSHIP: Would create a number of quick-tip financial resource guides to provide easy reference information and advice on selecting the right mortgage product, knowing how to use credit, and easy ways to save for colleges. Says she would push for greater transparency and fairness in the mortgage industry to ensure Missourians do not accept loans with bad terms and conditions. Would call for tougher predatory lending laws. Proposes a low-interest loan program for active military, reservists and veterans who want to buy or improve a home.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Says she would provide the leadership to make MOST (Missouri’s 529 savings plan) great again by making it a more viable option for individuals and families to save for college.

STATE INVESTMENTS: Says that she would make investing in Missouri businesses a priority by ensuring state government investments are sound and that Missourians, not politically connected corporations or special interests, should be the beneficiaries. Has proposed stimulating the economy by supporting our hospitals and says she would provide low-interest loans to hospitals that are struggling financially.

PROTECTING INVESTORS: Says she would uphold and strengthen safeguards adopted by the treasurer’s office to ensure that none of the securities held by the Missouri Investment Trust are with companies that sponsor terrorism.


Charles Wheeler

Kansas City

PERSONAL: Age 81. He and his wife, Marjorie Wheeler, have three grown children.

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: www.wheelerfortreasurer.com

OCCUPATION: Retired forensic pathologist and former owner of Wheeler Medical Laboratories in Kansas City.

EDUCATION: Medical degree from University of Kansas,1950; law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 1959.

BACKGROUND: Jackson County coroner, 1964; Jackson County administrative court, 1966; mayor of Kansas City from 1971 to 1975, Missouri state senator from 2003 to 2007, past president of the former Westport Bank of Kansas City, 1980-81; past president of the Missouri Municipal League, 1973; past president of the Missouri Society of Pathology, 1962.

ISSUES

HOME OWNERSHIP: Says he is very familiar with Missouri Housing Development Commission because it is headquartered in Kansas City. Says it has done a great job of providing for moderate-income housing but needs to be supported more adequately in order to provide housing for less fortunate citizens. Says that the housing mortgage problem is a federal issue and that the solution would be to elect a Democratic congress and president.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Says he is the most educated candidate in the primary race and that he has strong ties with the state’s university system. Calls for more financial support for community colleges.

STATE INVESTMENTS: Says he would work with former treasurers to create a bipartisan advisory committee for the incumbent in 2008. Believes incumbent Sarah Steelman has improved state investments. Would also enlist former state treasurer James Spainhower as a senior advisor. Says he has credentials in investment banking.

PROTECTING INVESTORS: Says his background in law enforcement would be useful in protecting Missouri investors, citing his efforts to fight white-collar crime at the federal, state and local level.


Clint Zweifel

Florissant

PERSONAL: Age 34. He and his wife, Janice Smith, are the foster parents of two girls.

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: www.clintfortreasurer.com

OCCUPATION: 78th District state representative, former research and education director for Teamsters Local 688.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in political science, 1997; master’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2001.

BACKGROUND: Elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2003; ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee; board member of the Valley Industries sheltered workshop; Distinguished Alumni of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Missouri system, Spirit of Enterprise Award from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

ISSUES

HOME OWNERSHIP: Says homeownership is one of the great barometers of success in America, but we have riddled the path to that goal with traps. Advocates an agency relationship between borrowers and mortgage brokers, requiring brokers to have legal responsibility to borrowers. Says one of the best ways to help workers is to help them build capital for their families. Says the state should create a fund that helps those facing foreclosure, through no fault of their own, to weather financial storms.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Notes that Missouri has the highest public tuition in the Big 12 Conference and says he would promote policies to combat the high costs of higher education. Criticizes the incumbent treasurer for remaining silent during the sale of assets of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) on how that move would affect students. Says the treasurer is positioned to contribute and add value to policy discussions.

STATE INVESTMENTS: Says he would preserve Missouri’s AAA bond rating, which saves state and local governments and school districts millions of taxpayer dollars when they finance capital projects and other long-term debts, by pursuing sound investment policies and advocating for the fiscal health of our state. Says that the treasurer is responsible for hiring and contracting with the best individuals and firms to manage the state’s investments and banking services and that these are profitable contracts that require a transparent and open bid process. Says he will ensure more individuals and firms have the opportunity to compete for contracts.

PROTECTING INVESTORS: Says most brokers and financial advisers are honest, responsible professionals, but dishonest or unethical conduct by a broker can cost Missourians their life savings. Sponsored House Bill 1817 to give Missouri’s Commissioner of Securities more power to stop unethical brokers and investment advisers. The bill did not pass, but he says it would have corrected a drafting error in state statutes that prevents the state from sanctioning an individual for unethical behavior until another state or the Securities Exchange Commission has cited the individual for the same reasons. Advocates harsh penalties for those who prey on senior citizens.


Mark Powell

Arnold

PERSONAL: Age 57. He and his wife, Pamela Powell, have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: www.mayorpowell.com

OCCUPATION: Mayor of Arnold since 2001, owner of Mark G. Powell Investments since 1996.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Missouri State University, 1972.

BACKGROUND: Arnold treasurer from 1999 to 2001; Arnold City Council member from 1994 to 1998; trustee and treasurer of the Jefferson County Library District from 1996 to 2005 and from 1989 to 1992; member of the Fox C-6 School District Board of Education from 1982 to 1990 and president in 1988; vice president of Commerce Bank from 1976 to 1996; operations officer for UMB Bank from 1972 to 1976.

ISSUES

HOME OWNERSHIP: Says he would push for expansion of the Missouri Housing Development Commission’s Certified Lender program, which establishes guidelines for lenders participating in the first-time homebuyers program. Advocates creating a public education and awareness program and enforcing consumer protection laws through a program similar to the one the Secretary of State’s Office uses to oversee the investment and insurance industry.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Would seek to expand the college savings program to allow for more investment options and choices and to form partnerships with hospitals in Missouri through which the treasurer would distribute to the parents of every newborn child a one-page description and one-page account application for the college savings program. Would encourage expansion of the community college program that would gradually convert community colleges to four-year colleges, thus making college education more affordable for many. Notes that many students cannot afford the room, board and high cost of travel to attend four-year colleges.

STATE INVESTMENTS: Says the state’s investment funds should be shared across Missouri banks that have the financial resources to safely and legally accept the investments. Says checking accounts should be bid and awarded to the best and safest financial institution. Says the vast majority of state funds are now invested in U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds. Although these are traditionally safe investments, he says every effort should be made to invest state money in local banks that pay the same or better rates than the state can earn in treasury securities. Says the treasurer can create jobs by investing money in local banks through the Missouri Linked Deposit Program.

PROTECTING INVESTORS: Supports Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s efforts to protect investors and to bring action against unscrupulous brokers and agents through the Missouri Investor Protection Center. Says the treasurer has no authority in this area but, as a statewide elected official, should be an advocate of consumer protection laws and ensure proper and ethical action by brokers and agents.


Brad Lager

Savannah

PERSONAL: Age 33. He and his wife, Stephanie Lager, have one daughter.

PARTY: Republican

CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: www.bradlager.com

OCCUPATION: 12th District state senator, small business owner.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in computer management systems from Northwest Missouri State University, 1997.

BACKGROUND: Member of the Maryville City Council since 2001; Fourth District state representative from 2002 to 2006; vice-chairman and later chairman of the House Budget Committee; elected to the state Senate in 2006; member of St. Gregory’s Catholic Church in Maryville; member of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

ISSUES

HOME OWNERSHIP: Home ownership is a cornerstone of the American Dream. Says in the state Senate, he was proud to support comprehensive property tax reform and a bill to crack down on mortgage fraud. Says as state treasurer, he will continue to work to extend the dream of home ownership to more Missourians in a fiscally responsible manner. The state treasurer serves on the board of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which is instrumental in providing tax credits to develop low-income housing. Says on the board, he will work to ensure these tax credits achieve their mission of providing Missourians with affordable housing and that the taxpayers earn a good return on this investment.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Says making college more affordable for Missourians has been his priority in the Senate and will continue to be a priority if elected as state treasurer. Says in the Senate he supported an increase in the number of need-based scholarships and tuition discounts for Missouri veterans.

Also says he has worked hard to strengthen Missouri’s regional and community colleges as affordable higher education options. Says as state treasurer, one of his responsibilities will be to lead MOST, Missouri’s nationally recognized 529 College Savings Plan, with the goal of helping all Missourians attain a college education. Says he will seek to improve program benefits and investment options to attract more Missourians to participate in MOST.

STATE INVESTMENTS: The first criteria of any state investment should be that it is safe.

The state treasurer cannot and should not invest the taxpayer’s portfolio in risky investments. Says with security and stability in mind, his philosophy is to make sure we secure the most competitive rate of return available for our portfolio and invest as much of the state’s portfolio as possible in Missouri businesses, farms and communities.

Not only will Missourians get a good return on their investment, but it will also create economic growth and opportunity here at home.

PROTECTING INVESTMENTS: Says he will never lose sight of the fact that the taxpayers are his boss, and that the money managed by the state treasurer belongs to them, not the government. Says as a small-business owner, he has experience in addressing tough fiscal issues. Says his time in Jefferson City has taught him that it is essential for Missourians to have a tough fiscal watchdog in the state treasurer’s office. Says as treasurer, his first priority will always be to protect the taxpayers’ investments, and his second priority will be to generate the best rate of return possible for Missourians.


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