Candidate Conversation: State Treasurer

OPB | Oct. 20, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:45 p.m.

Who is best prepared to handle Oregon’s money?

Oregon’s current treasurer, Randall Edwards, said earlier this month “the huge drops in the markets have reduced the value of the Oregon funds that I manage… We are into a recession, and any lengthening or deepening of it will create significant budget pressures.” He said that the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund has experienced a
significant decline in value (in September it was $53.3 billion, down from $63.3 billion last December).

This is the situation that the next treasurer will inherit. Who is best prepared to manage Oregon’s money? The two people competing for the job are Democrat Ben Westlund and Republican Allen Alley.

Senator Ben Westlund was elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1997. He is on the board of the Oregon Cultural Trust and sponsored the Healthy Oregon Act. Before entering government Westlund owned and operated “an international animal husbandry business selling bovine genetics” in Central Oregon. (He sold semen from bulls to be used in cattle breeding.) Westlund’s success allowed him to retire from business at age 46. According to his Facebook page, Westlund’s favorite television shows include Jeopardy, 60 Minutes, and Family Guy.

Allen Alley’s Facebook page details his favorite television shows too. They include “any talent show (Mom was an actress, Dad a singer),” and “Extreme Engineering (almost anything on Discovery).” Alley is known for his business experience. In 1997 he co-founded Pixelworks, a semiconductor company, where he still serves as chairman of the board. He served as deputy chief of staff for Governor Ted Kulongoski for a year, and was responsible for overseeing economic development, technology, transportation, workforce training, and energy.

Westlund’s critics say he doesn’t have enough business experience to be treasurer. Alley’s critics say he doesn’t have enough legislative experience. What skills are needed to best manage Oregon’s money? What are your greatest concerns about Oregon’s finances in these turbulent economic times? Do you count on the state for your pension? Who do you support for state treasurer?

GUESTS:

Ben Westlund: Oregon state senator and the Democratic candidate for Treasurer

Allen Alley: founder of Pixelworks and the Republican candidate for Treasurer

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