The Republican primary election for State Treasurer is one of the most hotly contested races on the ballot tomorrow, Tuesday, September 9th. As the primary campaign winds down, TSD caught up with a very busy candidate Ken Simpler to hear more about his experience, his vision for the role and passion for making Delaware “First in Finance.”
TSD: To get right to it, why should voters choose you for this job?
Ken Simpler: The Treasurer’s core responsibilities consist of collecting, investing and disbursing state monies. Total spending in Delaware approaches $8 billion per annum and cash on hand at any given time can be as much as $2 billion. The proper handling of those billions of dollars of taxpayer funds is a job for someone with a demonstrated and successful track record in finance and money management. I have spent the last 20 years serving as either a Chief Financial Officer or an investment professional. The other candidates for State Treasurer have no money management experience and no finance background.
TSD: Why did you decide to get into this race now?
KS: I grew up in Delaware at a time when economic opportunity was abundant for those who were enterprising, hard-working and thrifty. I fear that is no longer the case. Economic opportunity requires a government that is transparent, accountable and certain in the management of its financial affairs. Delaware’s finances are broken, and there is no plan in place to lay a solid fiscal foundation or prepare for our financial future. I want to serve as State Treasurer to resolve the fiscal problems in the Treasury and make Delaware “First in Finance” again.
TSD: What would you say is the key issue facing the Treasurer’s office today?
KS: The State Treasurer’s office has suffered from day-to-day lack of professional management. The current Treasurer has mishandled our State’s $2 billion portfolio, the operational and financial reporting of the office and the leadership of Treasury personnel. The solution to these problems is to elect someone as your next State Treasurer with a proven capacity to invest billions of dollars, oversee a finance office and manage financial personnel.
Over the past twenty years, I have successfully managed a portfolio of more than $1 billion through volatile business cycles for one of the world’s largest and most successful private asset management firms. I have overseen and led dozens of financial personnel in offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Tokyo, London and New York. I presently serve as the Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of a hotel and property management business based here in Delaware with day-to-day responsibility for all financial operations. My experience in all these capacities has provided me with the insights and professional knowledge to competently serve as Delaware’s State Treasurer.
TSD: This is clearly an office in need of new leadership. How will you approach the role itself?
KS: I will bring the highest levels of professionalism to the Treasurer’s office. I will serve full-time, for a full term. I will focus on the job – the collection, investment and disbursement of our state monies – not initiatives outside the scope of the position. The example I will set in the Treasury will be a benchmark for performance of our State’s other financial functions. I will reform the practices and the processes of the State Treasurer’s office and make it a center for excellence in the management and handling of taxpayer monies. Delaware will be “First in Finance” under my leadership.
TSD: You are a local guy with deep Delaware roots and degrees from Princeton and the University of Chicago. But your family background and upbringing are very much small business…
KS: Yes, I was born and raised in Rehoboth Beach. I grew up in a restaurant family that operated the iconic Avenue Restaurant for many years. I learned at an early age the merits of hard work, sound money management and entrepreneurialism. My extended family lives throughout Delaware but is clustered in Eastern Sussex County. This state is my home and I want to do all that I can to secure financial opportunity for all Delaware families.