Incumbent Democrat John Perdue is facing Republican challenger Riley Moore in the race for West Virginia Treasurer.
John Perdue (D-incumbent)
Town of Residence: Cross Lanes
Education: 1972 graduate of West Virginia University
Occupation: State Treasurer
What prompted you to run for reelection?
I love my job and I love what I am doing. We are constantly upgrading technology in the office and improving upon the many programs that we administer. For example, we just introduced a new website for Unclaimed Property that makes it easier for people to search for property that belongs to them. We have returned over 70% of unclaimed property that we have received and that is the best rate in the nation. We are working closely with the Governor’s Office on a new initiative to bring broadband services to rural West Virginia. This is critical for local education systems and small businesses to compete in the 21st century economy.
For many, the treasurer's office is not front and center in the political arena. What should voters know about why it matters?
I think most people in the state know many of the programs that we manage, but they may not know that the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office is in charge of them. I think people know we are the bank of state government, but they might not know we manage $18 billion of the state’s money. We’ve modernized the office and brought in expert money managers. I am proud to say that in the 24 years that I have served as Treasurer we haven’t lost one penny of the state’s money.
I am sure if you talk to people around the state, they know of our successful Unclaimed Property program. They may not know that we have returned $230 million dollars in Unclaimed Property to the people of West Virginia.
Many parents and grandparents have heard of the Smart529 College Saving Program. Smart529 is a $2.7 billion program that helps parent and grandparents pay for their child’s education after high school.
Our 457 Retirement program allows state, county and municipal employees save more for their retirement.
What would you count as some of your successes as treasurer? What achievements are you still pursuing?
We have had many successes, especially from our anchor programs: Unclaimed Property, Smart529 College Savings Program and the 457 Retirement Plus Program. But, the most important aspect of our job is managing the state’s money -- $18 billion -– and I am proud to say we haven’t lost a penny of the state’s money on my watch and our bond rating is the best it’s ever been.
I believe that the new challenge before the state is making sure that everyone in the state has access to broadband service. That’s why I was happy to join Governor Justice recently to announce a new broadband initiative. I’m from rural West Virginia -– Boone County -– and right now there is a great divide of those who have access to broadband and those who don’t. This is a big issue for rural counties, especially during this pandemic when most of our teaching options are only on-line. In addition, it’s a challenge for our small business community who have lost walk-in business and must depend on the availability of broadband to reach their customer base.
Riley Moore (R)
Town of residence: Harpers Ferry
Education: Undergraduate degree in government and international politics from George Mason University in Virginia. Master’s degree in strategic security studies from the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Director, Textron Inc.
What prompted you to run for treasurer?
In my time in the Legislature there was one constitutional officer who was never in the building and who I had never met –- State Treasurer John Perdue. During the debates over medical cannabis in 2017 and 2018 and the banking issue, he was completely absent. I worked tirelessly and drafted legislation to fix the banking issue in 2018 with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to have it scuttled on the last night of session with a letter from Treasurer Perdue. Treasurer Perdue had well over a year to make any reservations known but was completely absent from the conversation. This led to the prolonged delay of the medical cannabis program in the state and the frustration of people across the state. Advocates for cancer patients had met with me multiple times during these debates and to have this program delayed this long unacceptable. to be more on the preservation of the status quo rather than change. Our people deserve better.
For many, the treasurer's office is not front-and-center in the political arena. What should voters know about why it matters?
There has been a stagnation of innovation and new ideas in the office, most of this owed the fact that to one person has been running the office for the last 24 years.
This is an office that is often overlooked by the average West Virginian but has great potential to bolster our working class and economy. I would do this with my Jump Start Savings Plan that would allow individuals graduating from vocation or trade schools to start savings accounts to purchase tools, equipment, licenses, or certifications. The current 529 only allows individuals to buy tools that are part of their classroom instruction. The Jump Start Savings Plan in contrast, is to save for after school –- to jump start their career. This would benefit the entrepreneur and the individuals in unions. We would be the first state in the country undertake a program like this -– let’s be a leader for once.
What changes would you bring to the office?
• I will start the Jump Start Saving Plan.
• Top to bottom outside audit of the office.
• Greater transparency for the people in how their money is being invested via a transparency website.
• Proactively reaching out to people to return unclaimed property and ending the program being used as political prop during election years.
• Controlling the ever-increasing budget of the office and right-sizing it through modernization and meeting the needs of the people with less of their money being spent.
• Self-imposed term limits, while seeking a constitutional change, working with the Legislature, to limit all constitutional offices to two terms. The same as the Governor.