Campaign Countdown: Meet the candidates for Vt. treasurer

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters go to the polls in less than a month to weigh in on a new state treasurer following the announcement earlier this year that longtime treasurer Beth Pearce was not seeking reelection.

Democrat Mike Pieciak, the former commissioner for the Department of Financial Regulation will face perennial Republican candidate H. Brooke Paige, who is also running for Secretary of State.

The treasurer serves as Vermont’s banker and chief investment officer, managing public and state funds, debt management, and the administration of three retirement systems and pension funds. Pearce has held the position since 2011 and has endorsed Pieciak as her replacement.

“Those are big shoes to fill and I hope it’s me. And I look forward to carry on her legacy, working on issues that are important to Vermonters,” Pieciak said.

Pieciak was born and raised in Brattleboro and although this is his first run for elected office, he is no stranger to the political scene. He held the top job at DFR since 2016 and took on a prominent role in the Scott administration’s COVID response.

“The treasurer’s office is similar to the Department of Financial Regulation and the commissioner’s office that I had before. It combines policy, it combines finance. Having worked for a Democratic governor and a Republican governor, I have the right judgment and temperament,” Pieciak said. He says he would leverage the office to tackle some of the state’s thorniest problems. “I see three primary challenges: housing, child care, climate resiliency, also making sure that our state employees and our teachers have a strong pension system that they can retire with dignity after a long career in public service. It’s those kinds of important issues that are facing Vermont -- or demographic issues -- that I think the treasurer’s office can do a lot of good work on and why I’m motivated to seek it.”

Pieciak has the support of Democratic power players in the state, including the outgoing treasurer, who announced in May that she would retire due to health challenges. Although the office is nonpartisan, Piecak says he’s proud of his Democratic background. “The Democratic Party is a party that I feel very comfortable and I consider myself a strong Democrat,” he said.

Pieciak’s opponent, H. Brooke Paige, says that the office needs a more Republican outlook. “I’m trying to bridge the gap, to try to give people a choice. And the choice is between all things as they’ve been going or a more conservative approach to the treasurer’s office. And that’s really what I’m offering,” Paige said.

The Republican spent his early years running newsstands in the subways and train stations of Philadelphia before moving to Vermont in 1988 and getting involved with politics. This year, Paige won the Republican nomination for four offices -- secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and attorney general -- but will only be on the ballot for treasurer and secretary of state.

“I’ve been involved directly in politics for the past 10 years or so and wound up running for state treasurer along with secretary of state -- which is the one office that I most want to succeed in. If I didn’t do this for the Republicans, the Republicans would have no candidates,” Paige said.

He says he believes that the most pressing issue the state is facing is irresponsible spending, something he hopes to put an end to if elected. “If we were a private corporation, we’d be technically bankrupt. The treasurer’s office really has to impress upon the Legislature to be more prudent with their spending. We have all these projects and programs that we really don’t have the money to be spending on,” Paige said. He says his main goal would be keeping people in the state and protecting their pensions and retirement funds. “I just want to make things so that Vermonters are able to afford to remain here. Through the treasurer’s office, basically, that’s balancing the books and trying to reduce unnecessary spending.”

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