Stell Parker Selby is the Republican Party’s candidate for state treasurer, and by all accounts she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance against wildly popular Democrat Jack Markell.
Selby, 59 and a retired educator from Milton, made her candidacy official Tuesday and said she wants to determine whether to abolish the office of treasurer if she’s elected. Good for her.
State treasurer is another of those statewide offices that long ago lost its political swagger and today is no more than a high- level row office. It should follow the path to political oblivion like coroner, orphans court judge and register in chancery.
There was a time when a state treasurer was needed. But that was before governments got sophisticated and invented departments of finance, budget and accounting offices and filled those positions with M.B.A.-type bean-counting specialists.
Markell could hold the position of the state’s chief bean counter. Stell Parker, however, could not. Neither could most of the state treasurers we’ve had over the past 50 years.
Here’s an example of how serious the state treasurer’s job is taken by legislators over recent years, according to Title 20 of the Delaware Code: “The State Treasurer shall have the power to perform and shall be responsibility for the powers, duties and functions vested … in the Secretary of Finance immediately prior to January 7, 1975, which are not otherwise hereinbefore specifically transferred to the State Treasurer.”
For the most part, the treasurer’s job is to oversee the printing and distribution of state checks, payroll and otherwise. That’s why Markell has time to spend on his educational programs for students about budgeting and money management. Those are worthwhile programs that do more for political self-promotion than complement any aspect of the treasurer’s office.
Nowadays the treasury office’s claim to fame is as a stepping stone to higher office, e.g., Tom Carper. Markell has made no secret he’s seeking the 2008 gubernatorial nomination. That’s guaranteed to force a primary with Lt. Gov. John Carney.
The other two statewide row- type office — insurance commissioner and auditor — also need adjusting. The auditor should have a six-year term to overlap a full term of a governor. I wouldn’t want to see it abolished, but I would like to see more movement on the auditing front other than during election years.
In fairness to Tom Wagner, this year has been a bit extraordinary, what with Christina School District and Middletown loans popping up unexpectedly.
The debate over an elected vs. appointed insurance commissioner draws lots of disagreement. Most insurance commissioners in the country are appointed, and many are seen as pawns of the industry. Elected ones theoretically owe their allegiance to the electorate, although some have been known to sidle up to the insurance folks for comfort.
But I remain on the side of an appointive insurance commissioner, again with a six-year term. Current Commissioner Matt Denn has said he’ll consider the question of elected vs. appointive after his first term.
Former New Castle County Council President Stephanie Hansen and her husband, Chris Roberts, a former councilman, are quietly maneuvering themselves back into the Democratic political scene.
Roberts pleaded guilty to tax evasion last year, paid a fine and was served probation. He was defeated in a Democratic primary by current 6th District Councilwoman Patty Powell.