Vt. treasurer won’t seek reelection
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce says she will not be seeking another term in office. The five-term Democrat announced Wednesday she was planning on running but was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago and wants to focus on recovery.
Surrounded by friends, supporters, and colleagues Wednesday, the 68-year-old Pearce, announced she will not seek reelection. “They will be the best 19 and-a-half years of my life,” she said.
Pearce was first appointed to the post in 2011 by Gov. Peter Shumlin and won her first election in 2012. She was gearing up to run for a sixth term but recieved a cancer diagnosis last month. “I do have every expectation that this will be a positive outcome, but right now this is what I need to do,” she said.
Pearce has 45 years of government finance experience and almost two decades in Vermont, including managing state debt and overseeing public pensions. “When I do something, I do it for the long-term, and I’m looking for a long-term commitment to the treasurer’s office,” Pearce said back in 2011.
And a commitment it’s been, from doling out $150 million for Irene victims, to helping Vermonters with disabilities save for the future, to printing relief checks during the COVID crisis.
“She was able to bring the credibility around the financial decisions the state was making and it convinced a lot of people in the state Legislature into acting on clean water. Not just being, ‘Okay, we need to do this, it’s’ going to cost us.’ No, it’s going to benefit us,” said Rob Kidd with the Sierra Club.
Pearce says she and her staff have worked to ensure every Vermonter has the opportunity to live a life of financial wellbeing. Most recently, Pearce was tackling what she calls unfinished business. She raised the red flag on Vermont’s $3 billion unfunded pension liability for state employees and teachers and sparked a conversation about what retirement should look like.
Lawmakers are in the process of overriding Governor Scott’s veto on the pension plan. Pearce says sticking with defined benefit plans put the state on solid financial footing. “It’s the right thing to do in terms of financial security and it’s the most cost-effective way to do it,” she said.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, called Pearce a steadfast public servant, deeply committed to Vermont, and said: “I have enjoyed our collaborative relationship. Regardless of our differences, we have worked together well on several issues. I know Beth will continue to serve Vermonters well for the remainder of her term, and I wish her a speedy recovery.”
Other state leaders say Pearce has been able to be a good steward of the retirement funds. “It’s kind of like cybersecurity, it’s a race without a finish line. You’re always going to have to evolve, you’re going to have to evolve and that’s what Beth was able to do,” said Vt. Secretary of State Jim Condos.
A candidate for treasurer has not yet come forward, but Pearce has advice for whoever’s next: “Find ways that you can reach out to the community and bring the community into your office.”
Pearce is the second statewide officeholder to announce she is not seeking reelection. Condos says he is also stepping down. Those seats, combined with open seats for the U.S. Senate, Congress, and lt. governor will make for a busy campaign season.
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