Indiana treasurer candidates say greater transparency, enhanced cybersecurity among priorities
Republican Daniel Elliott and Democrat Jessica McClellan are running for the open Indiana state treasurer seat in this year's election.
Elliott said strengthening cybersecurity across state and local government will be a top priority, if elected. McClellan cited expansion of existing programs and “needed” transparency as key initiatives.
Elliott is a software engineer and has spent years serving in local government, including a decade as the president of the Morgan County Redevelopment Commission.
He said that experience is what spurred him to run for state treasurer.
“I just saw this need of, hey, we need to grow rural Indiana," Elliott said. "And I saw the treasurer’s office as a tool that’s been utilized before and can be utilized even more to help grow economic opportunities in rural Indiana.”
McClellan is currently the Monroe County treasurer. And she said she’s seen firsthand what the state treasurer’s office can do for Hoosiers.
One of the programs it oversees is the CollegeChoice 529 Plan. McClellan said she wants to “fill in the gaps” in the savings program.
“I’ve heard that families don’t know if it’ll affect their kids’ chances at getting a scholarship, if they have a lot of savings in this plan," McClellan said. "So, I think that step one is to answer all of these questions and see if we can get more buy-in.”
Elliott pushed a similar message. He's the first in his family to go to college. And he said that background is what drives him to increase awareness of the program.
"The working class, those who are fairly poor – this is not something even on their radar," Elliott said. "And I think that's where we need to improve."
Elliott said one of his first jobs in office, however, would be to address cybersecurity – a threat, he said, that’s too often overlooked.
“They know that’s a need. They know that’s a concern but they’re not quite sure how to address that," Elliott said. "And that’s something, right off the bat, that I want to get right there in the beginning and say, ‘OK, here’s how we can help local governments with cybersecurity.’”
McClellan cited local government support as a major issue, too. On her agenda is expansion of TrustINdiana, an investment program that allows local governments to pool their money together, in order to produce greater returns.
"I am thinking about townships and small cities and towns, where every single dollar counts," McClellan said.
READ MORE: Indiana's CollegeChoice 529 savings program marks 25 years since creation
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The treasurer isn't a policy-making role; rather, it's largely administrative. Still, McClellan said she would use the position to be a "cheerleader."
"Rooting for Democrats in the legislature and helping them with what the state treasurer's office can do to take their goals – you know, their legislative priorities – everybody has ideas," McClellan said. "How do we make those ideas happen?"
Elliott has his own way of envisioning his relationship with the legislature.
"I'm going to have to follow their lead on what they're looking to do," Elliott said. "My role is to provide them with the data so that, when they're looking at these policies, here's what you should be looking at. Here's the actual data."
Republicans have largely controlled state government for decades. And McClellan said electing a Democrat to the state treasurer’s office will bring greater transparency.
“And I think it is a very important position to have an outside view, not in the controlling party, to look at the spending and ask the questions,” McClellan said.
Democrats haven't won the state treasurer's office since 1976.
Contact reporter Brandon at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.