New Bern, NC – INTRO - The U-S Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson has been much in the news recently probably more than he'd like. The North Carolina State Treasurer is usually operating under the radar, though the recent economic news has perhaps brought this usually non-descript race into the voter's consciousness. George Olsen has the first of two profiles of the candidates seeking to replace Richard Moore.
The current economic crisis is playing out on a national and international stage. The role a state treasurer might play in resolving it might be, at best, minimal. But nevertheless, what's happening on the larger stage is definitely being felt across North Carolina.
"We've already had businesses suffering because of a lack of credit, unemployment has gone from 4.5% to about 7%. We have counties and cities that are trying to get bonding for cities and schools and jails, and they can't find the credit to do it. This is where the treasurer, as the chairman of the local government commission, works with these counties and cities to make sure they can get the credit, and right now it's tough to do."
Bill Daughtridge is the Republican nominee for state treasurer. He's completing his third term in the state House as a Representative of Nash County. It's his time in private business that he touts as chief among his qualifications for holding the state treasurer's post.
"I have operated and grown companies. I have bought companies. I have started new companies. In the process of doing that, as a manager of a business, I have to do financial analysis. I'm in the credit market. I have to make decisions of how to use money and make sure I get the proper return on investment of the money that I deal with as far as investments that I make. All of this is important because I have the ultimate responsibility. The buck stops here with me, and because of that I have the accountability. The treasurer is in the same situation."
He is currently president of the Daughtridge Company in Rocky Mount, which includes the Daughtridge Oil, Daughtridge Gas and Daughtridge Transport companies. He's been with the company closing on 30 years since 1979, two years after receiving his MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill. Much as he might have projected out for the future of his company those years gone by, the chance to look beyond the more immediate concerns of the Legislature led him to take a shot at the state-wide post.
"It has a long term view, a 20-year view on bonds and a 30-year view on pensions, as opposed to the Legislature, which has basically a two-year view because they have a two-year term, a two-year budget. I can look at a long-term view of the state and what's good for economic development for the long term of the state and how to effectively use our debt."
Representative Daughtridge says the state is currently below its debt ceiling but not by much. He'd like to see more of the determination on what debt the state should assume be placed in the hands of state voters.
"One of the problems we have had is the fact that a lot of certificate of participation bonds are being passed in the Legislature and they're not being voted on by the people. Most of these big projects should be general obligation bonds that are voted on by the people and they could make a determination if that's something needed for the state's growth."
He also says one of his major initiatives would be the promotion of financial literacy among the state's populace, especially in light of sub-prime mortgage problems across the country, though he says the problem hasn't been as severe in North Carolina due in part to measures passed by the General Assembly. Toward providing more information to state residents, he also says he'd like greater transparency between the Treasurer's office and the more-than-700,000 people with pension savings through the state, which the state Treasurer oversees.
"I have retirees calling me now since we're in such turbulent times and saying Bill, can you get me information. Do we need to know where our funds are? The information that's available is pretty old information. The complete information is backed up to December 2007. There's been some updates during the process but it's not a complete update and it's hard for retirees and the people whose pensions are upcoming to get information to know where they really stand."
State Representative Bill Daughtridge is the Republican candidate for state treasurer. I'm George Olsen.