The North Carolina state treasurer oversees billions of dollars in state investments and the state health plan. It’s a job that requires competence, good judgment and integrity. In Democratc candidate Dan Blue III, voters will find all three qualities. We recommend his election with confidence.
Blue, 43, is an attorney with the law firm of his father, a state senator and former speaker of the state House. Blue III, a Democrat, holds law and business degrees from Duke University and has worked in private industry, with a New York investment firm and now with his father and brother. He has a strong background for the office of the Treasurer, which manages the all-important state pension fund and billions of dollars in assets along with a role in the state health plan.
Having Wall Street savvy is an advantage in the job, not just to understand how the financial system works, but in dealing with money managers and negotiating their fees, in the millions, for managing different parts of the state’s portfolio. And Blue has political acumen and a “big picture” approach, which is important in running a large department with a host of specialists.
This office has been well-run for several generations, dating to the late Edwin Gill, and to his successors. Departing Treasurer Janet Cowell has kept the office up to date in terms of technology as best she could, and the state’s assets have done well. Treasurers typically have worked well with both Republicans and Democrats. Blue, a forceful but soft-spoken person, also recognizes the office plays a crucial role in shaping the state’s health plan. He says that plan must be financially healthy and able to take care of liabilities.
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Blue’s Republican opponent, former state House Speaker pro-tem Dale Folwell, 57, has worked in the finance industry but also has held blue collar jobs and understands the people, all the people, he’d serve. He is a reasonable, thoughtful person who has done good work as a legislator, from establishing vertical driver’s licenses for those under 21 to common-sense traffic safety measures. He headed the Division of Employment Security until 2015 under Gov. McCrory. He is qualified for the job he seeks.
Folwell has imaginative ways of expressing his concern over the soundness of the state health plan and the pension plan, both of which he believes need tweaking if they’re to remain solvent. It’s a fair point, and one the treasurer’s office needs to address. But Folwell can get too absorbed in details, and that could be a problem in running a large department where the treasurer has to rely on subordinates to take care of day-to-day business while he or she concentrates on general oversight.
Both candidates are competent and good people. Dan Blue III has got a sound background for this job, and deserves a chance at it.