A Republican and independent will compete Nov. 6 to be Oklahoma’s next state treasurer, a position tasked with oversight of the state’s finances and credit rating. One of the duties of state treasurer is also to invest surplus funds.
Current Treasurer Ken Miller won his position in 2010 and won re-election without opposition in 2014. He will not serve another term due to an eight-year term limit on the state treasurer’s office.
McDaniel talks financial literacy for Oklahomans
Republican candidate Rep. Randy McDaniel (R-OKC) was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2006, where he eventually chaired the House Banking and Financial Services Committee. He is unable to serve in the Legislature again due to term limits.
In an interview with NonDoc, McDaniel discussed why he saw himself as a good fit for treasurer.
“I studied economics in college, went to work at a local bank and spent more than two decades as a financial adviser. So I spent 24 years in the private sector helping people reach their goals,” he said. “I can use my background in the private sector to help government work in a way to help all Oklahomans so we can have policies conducive to long-term growth and stability.”
In particular, McDaniel talked about wanting to increase financial literacy among Oklahomans.
“Financial literacy aims to provide the knowledge needed for families to make good financial decisions important to their daily lives,” McDaniel said. “I think treasurer can be a key advocate that can help across the state in this regard.”
McDaniel described his other priorities as improving Oklahoma’s retirement systems, finding more efficiencies in government and maximizing investment earnings.
De Coune: McDaniel ‘single-most damaging representative to teachers’
In deciding to run for treasurer, independent candidate Charles de Coune said he held his opponent responsible for many of the state’s recent financial woes.
“I looked at the (treasurer’s) race and who had filed, and only one person had filed, and the person who filed was the person who might have been the single-most damaging representative to teachers and our core-service providers,” de Coune said. “He has been dangerous to our state, and he could be even more dangerous as state treasurer.”
De Coune also highlighted his own qualifications.
“I do have financial credentials, and I quite frankly believe I have better credentials than my opponent,” de Coune said. “I manage bonds that are triple-A. It’s a couple notches above what the state does.”
Oklahoma has a current bond rating of Aa2, two classifications below the highest-possible rating of Aaa.
De Coune holds a degree in finance from the University of Central Oklahoma, where he graduated as valedictorian.
“I love finance, I’ve always loved finance, and I love giving back,” de Coune said. “I could not live with myself if I had not at least given it a try. For the state of the economy, I owe it to the state to give it at try.”
De Coune said that as treasurer he would give lawmakers economic recommendations for legislation that could affect Oklahoma’s finances. He also said he would make protecting retirement benefits a priority.
“The state treasurer will be on the board of TRS — teacher retirement systems — and OPERS — Oklahoma public employee retirement systems,” de Coune said. “I will do what I can to strengthen TRS and OPERS rather than weaken them.”
Improving the state’s credit rating
Recently, Moody’s Investor Services, a bond credit-rating business, revised Oklahoma’s bond-rating outlook from negative to stable. McDaniel said the upgrade was a sign of Oklahoma moving in the right direction. He talked about ways the state could continue to see growth in its bond rating.
“I support State Question 800, which will allow for the development of the vision fund,” McDaniel said. “Having a strong bond rating requires we have stable retirement systems, adequately funding our core functions of government.”
De Coune said that providing funding solutions for decades down the line would be a priority if elected, and he said he would also help the state’s bond rating.
“Once we start showing those companies that we are serious about education, they’re going to start coming in,” de Coune said. “Investing in teachers will increase our credibility and will attract new industry. As new industry comes in, guess what’s going to happen: new tax revenue. Sales tax, income tax — without having to create new taxes.”
Transparency in office
De Coune labeled McDaniel as lacking transparency, pointing to the fact that he does not have a campaign website.
“My opponent does not have a Facebook, my opponent does not have a web page. My opponent is not reachable,” de Coune said. “State treasurer should be transparent. The state treasurer will be responsible for managing billions of dollars that belong to Oklahoma families. A treasurer who refuses to release his tax returns might not be the best person for the job.”
McDaniel said he has complied with all financial disclosure requirements. He defended his record of openness.
“My committees have had a history of being open and transparent. It’s been a priority,” McDaniel said. “We’ll continue with innovation and technology improvements, and as investments made in those regards we will continue to implement them so there will be more openness.”
Oklahomans have until Oct. 12 to register to vote in the state’s Nov. 6 general election.