Former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey is ready for another go at public office after only a short two years in Washington, D.C. But she says she isn’t using the treasurer’s race as an opportunity to jump back into the limelight.
“I’ve had a long career in both the public and the private sectors, and I’m at a point in my career where I want to do something that is meaningful for me for the next couple of years,” explained Markey.
“I love being back in Colorado. I do not miss commuting back and forth to D.C. one bit,” she added. “This has the potential, particularly as I talk to other state treasurers around the country, to really be creative. You can work with the governor and the legislature or other treasurers to really strengthen the economy, and that’s what I’m focused on…”
A significant financial issue facing Colorado is its unfunded liabilities through the Public Employees’ Retirement Association fund. Markey has been critical of how her likely opponent, Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton, has handled the situation.
Both Markey and Stapleton are running unopposed at the state assemblies.
Stapleton has pushed for increasing the retirement age, lowering the projected rate of return on investments and curbing cost-of-living increases. But what has particularly irked Markey is how he sued to open the books of the PERA fund.
“What I won’t do is use PERA as a political football to score points,” declared Markey.
She said a better approach would be to work with the legislature to come up with a solution, such as what was done in 2010 with bipartisan legislation to address the retirement fund’s unfunded liabilities.
“That’s the approach that I would take,” said Markey. “Let’s make some specific recommendations to address potential shortfalls in the future, and let’s get some support to do that and let’s do that through the legislature… I’m not going to sue the state to get records.”
Markey plans on working closely with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and lawmakers if elected as the next state treasurer. She does not believe Stapleton has been doing an adequate job of reaching out to legislators.
“It’s critical… to build strong relationships… both with Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature,” said Markey.
“My first day in office, I would call every one of them, give them my personal cell phone number…” she added. “You need to be visible at the Capitol… I know [Stapleton] hasn’t been that visible in the Capitol, many legislators who I have talked to have never met him… and I think it’s important that you make the effort to be proactive and reach out.”
Markey believes her personal and professional background would serve her well as the next state treasurer. She held positions in the U.S. Treasury Department, including as a budget analyst.
She also comes from a family where women dominated the numbers game. One of seven children, Markey says her mom was her inspiration for getting involved with the financial sector.
“She loved the stock market,” said Markey. “She was the president of the neighborhood stock club. When I used to come home from school, my mother would be working with the women in the neighborhood going through the Wall Street Journal and advising them on… what stocks to invest in.”
Markey has one sister who is a tax attorney, another sister who is an accountant and another sister who is a math teacher.
“It’s girls and math in my family,” she laughed.
Markey says it’s not often to find someone who is attracted to both finance and public office, so she believes she is the perfect fit for the job of treasurer.
“I’ve always liked government service, particularly finance…” she explained. “That’s been my interest, to work in the public sector.”