Delaware treasurer candidates debate office management and restoring public trust

Simpler and Barney (file/NewsWorks)

Simpler and Barney (file/NewsWorks)

The candidates for Delaware treasurer engaged in a civil debate during the Wilmington Rotary Club’s meeting on Thursday.

Republican candidate Ken Simpler and Democrat Sean Barney fielded a handful of questions, many centered on how the candidates would manage the office differently than current treasurer, Chip Flowers.

Simpler said he would spend time focusing on the “core responsibilities” of the treasurer’s office.

“It’s not about economic development, it’s not about economic forecast and quite frankly there’s a number of other ancillary activities that the treasurer has occupied himself with but not the core management of the $8 billion and $2 billion.”

Barney said he plans to re-earn the trust of the public, following recent reports that members of the treasurer’s office misused state funds.

“The travel that has taken place in the office, the expenses for personal use, fly in the face of that and are frankly an insult to the taxpayers,” Barney said. “In the standards that I set for spending in the office, in the example that I set as the leader of that office, and in the ways that I can find across state government for us to do better by the taxpayers, get better results for less, I’m going to send a new message to the taxpayers of this state that they have a treasurer who respects how hard they work to earn their tax dollars.”

The candidates were also asked if they would accept an endorsement from Flowers, who dropped his bid for re-election in September.

“I would be surprised if we were to receive an endorsement but Chip has said he’s done with politics so maybe he would be willing to give a republican a chance,” Simpler said.

According to Barney, Flowers agreed to endorse him if he prevailed in the primary.

“I am reaching out to his supporters and seeking to pull them in, so I value their support and would value his support,” Barney said.

Flowers released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he would support all Delaware democrats but could not, “in good conscience,” endorse a candidate for treasurer.

Delawareans will head to the polls Nov. 4.

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