With Washington facing a budget crunch brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, experience and continuity are essential in overseeing the state’s finances. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that Republican Duane Davidson be reelected as state treasurer.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian suggests that voters study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot.
In Davidson, they will find a candidate who is completing his first term after serving four terms as Benton County treasurer. Prior to that, he worked as a certified public accountant and an assistant state auditor.
During Davidson’s tenure as state treasurer, Washington has attained a AAA bond rating from Moody’s for the first time, and his office has developed a Washington State Fund Directory that allows state agencies and local governments better access to resources for funding projects. “I hadn’t heard of some of the programs before,” he told the editorial board. “Our office ought to be supportive of local governments.”
Democratic challenger Mike Pellicciotti has asserted that Davidson misses too many meetings for important state financial boards and frequently sends surrogates in his place. “I will show up and do the job,” Pellicciotti told the editorial board. “Essentially, an abdication has taken place. This isn’t just about showing up to meetings; it’s about doing the work.”
As a two-term state representative and previously as an assistant attorney general, Pellicciotti has often focused on transparency in state government and says he will bring similar attention to the treasurer’s office.
Pellicciotti raises valid points that should provide a blueprint for Davidson should the incumbent win reelection. But Davidson’s strengths outweigh his shortcomings. He has a strong grasp of the role of the treasurer’s office, and his extensive experience can help guide the state through trying financial times. He recognizes that the treasurer’s job is to provide stability and to carry out directives from the Legislature and the governor’s office.
“If I see additional taxes or something big that I think would be detrimental to the health of the state, I’m going to be vocal about it,” Davidson told the editorial board. “I think we need to be really focused on the fact that we can’t do anything to hurt the economy any more. But at the end of the day, I don’t have a vote.”
For example, Davidson was opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana. But since the measure was passed by voters, he has pushed federal officials to ease regulations that prevent businesses from accessing financial services.
Notably, Davidson is strongly opposed to a state bank, which has been proposed and studied multiple times. He says that North Dakota is the only state with such a bank, and that the cost of establishing one in Washington would be prohibitive.
Davidson is one of two Republicans in a state executive position, along with Secretary of State Kim Wyman. In many states, executives are appointed by the governor, placing all power in the hands of a single political party. “I appreciate that we are separately elected,” Davidson said. “I think that’s a good check and balance.”
The challenger has raised some important issues regarding how Davidson can improve his performance, and the incumbent should take those to heart. In spite of those issues, The Columbian Editorial Board recommends Duane Davidson for reelection as state treasurer.