SFR Pick: James Lewis, Democrat
The money: The State Treasurer’s Office is basically the state’s banker; it deals with deposits, withdrawals and reconciliation of the state’s funds. It also manages the payments for the state’s bonds, oversees an investment fund for local public entities and manages any of the state’s operating cash that is not in immediate use. The STO does not manage the state’s retirement or permanent funds.
Baby and bathwater: Republicans hope voters’ antipathy with scandal and waste will disrupt Democrats’ stronghold on state government. In the case of State Treasurer James Lewis, this would be a mistake, aka “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” Lewis’ experience as state treasurer (this is his second time in the position), chief city administrator (Albuquerque), county treasurer (Bernalillo) and assistant secretary (US Department of Energy) make him one of the most eminently qualified candidates on the ballot. Challenger Jim Schoonover, the Village of Hatch clerk and a former county treasurer, makes a qualified challenger in the race. But given all Lewis has already done to restore the once-besmirched treasurer’s office, voters should hold onto him while they can.
Remember Vigil: The unresolved scandals of the State Investment Council and lawsuits against the Educational Retirement Board may have overshadowed memories of the days in which the State Treasurer’s Office was front and center news. That’s thanks to Lewis, who took over in the wake of the convictions against former state treasurers Robert Vigil and Michael Montoya, and cleaned up the office.
Positive changes: Lewis has focused on having qualified staff, switching to an electronic trading platform (rather than using the phones for bids), enhancing the State Treasurer’s Investment Committee, and expanding and improving the office’s reviews. For the public, the state treasurer provides monthly and timely information on its website.
The future: Lewis has a lot to say about job creation and growing the state budget. For example, he’s an advocate for expanding health care and alternative energy as employment sectors.