The state treasurer’s office has sometimes been viewed as a political stepping stone — not least by the most recent four occupants of the office, all of whom have run for governor. Those who seek the treasurer’s post often emphasize its more symbolic possibilities, such as promoting economic empowerment and financial literacy among the public, over the actual nitty-gritty duties that the treasurer must perform daily. Those duties are important: The treasurer manages the state’s cash flow and debt, oversees the state lottery and key aspects of the state retirement system, chairs the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and has responsibility for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. Three credible Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination as treasurer. But voters should choose the candidate who is best prepared to perform the treasurer’s duties — and is most interested in doing so.
That candidate is Tom Conroy. Currently a state representative from Wayland, Conroy has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins in international economics and an MBA in finance from Boston University. He has worked in the private sector as a financial and risk-management consultant. He understands clearly how securing favorable financing terms for major state debt issuances can save money that can be directed toward other needed projects. He sees how giving cities and towns access to the state’s investment expertise can reduce fiscal pressure on municipal authorities. Meanwhile, his wide-ranging public-sector experience, which includes everything from working with refugees on behalf of the US State Department to chairing the Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee, bespeaks a commitment to maximizing the good that government can do for people by making it work effectively.
Conroy’s two primary opponents have solid credentials. Deb Goldberg, a longtime Democratic activist whose family used to own Stop & Shop, has a Harvard MBA as well as real-world management know-how, a lengthy history of charitable works, and valuable municipal experience as a town selectwoman in Brookline. Barry Finegold, a state senator from Andover, has compiled a solid record in the Legislature and has been a leader on election reform. All three candidates are vowing to promote financial literacy and continue incumbent Steve Grossman’s plan to support business development by storing some of the state’s cash reserves in local banks. But it’s Conroy who shows the most fluency in, and enthusiasm for, the gory details of the treasurer’s job, and that makes him the best Democratic candidate for treasurer.