Blue touts private-sector experience in bid for treasurer

Published 12:05 am Friday, September 23, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — In his bid for the state treasurer, Democrat Dan Blue III touts his resumé as a factor that uniquely qualifies him for the office.

Blue, 43, has worked in the pharmaceutical industry and as an investment banker on Wall Street. He now works at his family’s law firm — Blue LLP — in Raleigh. He says those experiences directly translate into the facets of the state treasurer’s office.

“It’s all about that perspective piece,” he said on Thursday. “I have spent my career gathering expertise in the private sector and one of the the things that the private sector rewards you for that, say, a career in the General Assembly doesn’t is being a collaborator, bringing different people on big decisions together to find a way to move forward.”

Blue’s statement came in response a question during a Rowan Democratic Party meeting about why he was more qualified than his opponent. He’s facing Republican Dale Folwell, an accountant who has served in the N.C. General Assembly.

During the speech, Blue touted his resumé and talked briefly about issues facing the treasurer’s office. One of his first tasks, however, was describing the state treasurer’s office. It’s one of the most important elected offices in state government, Blue said. The position sits on a number of boards, oversees the state’s pensions, supervises the state’s health plan and has authority over the Local Government Commission.

“It’s more than just a management position,” Blue said. “It’s a position for a leader, and if you have the right perspective then you start to see the leadership opportunities in that position.”

One of Blue’s specific ideas if elected includes evaluating fees charged for, and aiming to add transparency to, alternative investments, which include private equity, hedge funds and real estate.

Another idea includes adding items to the state’s health plan that encourage participants to improve their health.

A third includes increasing staffing levels at the Local Government Commission to improve watchdog and monitoring of municipal and county government finances. Taking out loans would be one example of a reason county and cities may interact with the local government commission.

Blue said oversight from the Local Government Commission is important to prevent cities from an incident similar to to what’s happened in Flint, Mich. — where drinking water became contaminated after a cost-saving decision.

He ended the Thursday speech by half-jokingly describing how people should vote.

“You might not remember a word that I say,” he said. “You might not remember my policy positions and you might not even remember my name … all I need you to do, the only message I need you to carry out of here tonight is to vote blue.”

Blue is the son of Dan Blue Jr., who is a state senator and was previously the N.C. House speaker.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.