Pa. election 2024: Your guide to the primary candidates for treasurer

Treasurer Stacy Garrity is the only Republican appearing on the April 23 primary ballot, while Democrats will decide between state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro and Erin McClelland.

Side by side photos of Ryan Bizzarro; Stacy Garrity; Erin McClelland

The 2024 primary candidates for Pennsylvania treasurer, from left: Ryan Bizzarro; Stacy Garrity; Erin McClelland. (Courtesy candidate Facebook pages)

This story originally appeared on Spotlight PA.

Pennsylvanians will head to the polls on April 23 to select their parties’ candidates for state treasurer.

Only registered Democrats and Republicans can cast ballots for candidates during spring elections. The primary winners will face off during November’s election, in which all voters can participate.

The state treasurer is one of three elected row officers in the commonwealth, and plays a crucial role in managing state dollars. They can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.

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State revenue is deposited into the Treasury, and the office is responsible for using it to pay state bills for things like contracts and workers. The treasurer also invests state savings, and sits on the boards of Pennsylvania’s two massive public sector pension funds.

The position is commonly seen as a stepping stone for higher office; U.S. Sen Bob Casey (D., Pa.) is a former treasurer.

Republican Treasurer Stacy Garrity seeks a second term. She has named as key accomplishments the reduction of fees and the end of minimum deposit requirements for PA 529, the commonwealth-administered college savings program; and a fee reduction for PA ABLE, a savings program for people with disabilities.

Two Democrats are running to unseat her: state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D., Erie) and Erin McClelland, a former substance abuse counselor and project manager for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.

Bizzarro has centered his campaign on national political issues like abortion access and fighting “extremism,” while McClelland has focused on fighting pension privatization and pushing for labor and environmental supply chain standards.

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What does the treasurer do?

Pennsylvania’s treasurer stewards state dollars. This means managing withdrawals and debts to ensure the commonwealth’s bills are paid and investing savings. The Treasury directly controls about $50 billion in state savings.

The treasurer also has a board seat on Pennsylvania’s two public sector pension funds, SERS and PSERS, which hold tens of billions of dollars in savings for state workers and public school teachers, respectively. This board position gives the treasurer some influence over how these two pension funds share information and handle their money. For instance, the last two treasurers have pushed the funds to spend less on expensive fees to private investment managers.

The treasurer prepares regular reports on state finances and advocates for fiscal policies they believe would best serve the commonwealth.

Plus, they administer a significant list of tax-free savings programs, including Keystone Scholars, which gives $100 to any Pennsylvania baby born during or after 2019 to start their postsecondary savings.

The office also disburses payments for unemployment compensation and the State Workers’ Insurance Fund (SWIF), and administers a high-profile program that allows Pennsylvanians to recoup unclaimed property.


Ryan Bizzarro headshot
Democratic treasurer candidate Ryan Bizzarro. (Courtesy candidate Facebook page)

Ryan Bizzarro


A lifelong resident of Erie County, Bizzarro graduated from Edinboro University (now known as PennWest Edinboro) and Gannon University.

Bizzarro was a behavioral health specialist for the Erie city school district and a victim/witness coordinator and advocate for the Office of the Erie County District Attorney.

He has served in the legislature since 2013, representing a swing district in the perennial bellwether county.

He’s been a reliable Democratic vote on top issues, particularly in recent years, although he has occasionally bucked party lines. He was one of dozens of state House Democrats to support a 2013 law that prohibits health care plans offered through the state exchange from covering abortion, except in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant person.

Bizzarro helped pass a 2017 law strengthening Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty provisions, including restrictions on exposing dogs to extreme temperatures. This session, he’s introduced bills that would require candidates to clean up yard signs within 10 days of an election, allow first-time homebuyers to open a tax-free savings account to pay for their purchase, and cut down on lawsuits aimed at silencing critics. The latter passed the state House unanimously last year and awaits action in the Senate.

A few months after launching his campaign, Bizzarro proposed a bill that would require the Treasury to automatically return any unclaimed property worth less than $10,000 to owners with verifiable contact information. However, with the state House Democratic majority, he also voted to amend a separate, GOP-authored bill to make that threshold $100, rather than $5,000 as originally proposed.

Unclaimed property includes forgotten savings bonds or money in old bank accounts, and has been a particular focus of Bizzarro’s campaign. Along with his bill, he has proposed allocating more staff to proactively track down people with unclaimed property, issuing annual reports about the amount of unclaimed property in the commonwealth, and raising more public awareness of the issue.

He also wants to launch new outreach initiatives to enroll more people in the PA ABLE and 529 savings programs and more thoroughly review state contracts to check for potential wage theft — efforts he called “central to the treasurer’s job” in an email to Spotlight PA.

Bizzarro has also focused a significant amount of his campaign on political issues that go beyond the Treasury.

In his campaign announcement video, Bizzarro said one of his top priorities is to protect Pennsylvanians from Garrity, who he said “uses Harrisburg as a platform, spreading lies and promoting extreme agendas.”

Garrity is a longtime supporter of former President Donald Trump and recently endorsed his 2024 campaign. She also spoke at a January 2021 rally in Harrisburg that was organized to encourage state lawmakers to decertify the 2020 election results. In a 2022 Facebook post, she celebrated the impending overturn of Roe v. Wade, which eliminated nationwide protection for abortion access.

Endorsements: Pennsylvania Democratic Party; Democratic politicians including state House Speaker Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright and Madeleine Dean; Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

Erin McClelland
Democratic treasurer candidate Erin McClelland. (Courtesy candidate Facebook page)

Erin McClelland


A native of Western Pennsylvania, McClelland graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham University.

Her career includes a decade and a half in substance abuse and mental health counseling, project managing, and program directing.

McClelland also worked as a process improvement manager with the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions, and founded Pennsylvania’s first orthomolecular recovery program for addiction.

“I … ran a small business,” McClelland told Spotlight PA. “I’m the only person in the race that had to make a payroll — [that] has been a defining part of my career and how I look at finance and workers, so that’s important to me.”

She later worked as a project manager for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.

This isn’t her first time running for office. In 2014 and 2016, McClelland won Democratic primaries in races for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, but lost the general election both times to then-incumbent Republican Keith Rothfus.

On her campaign website, McClelland wrote that being on the ballot alongside Trump in 2016 was instructive and showed her that “the issues of rural and working-class voters [were] ignored by my own party.”

“The 2024 election will test just how committed to good union jobs, economic equality, and global human rights Pennsylvania Democrats really are,” she said in a campaign prospectus.

McClelland has criticized the incumbent treasurer’s support for a Democrat-sponsored bill that would create Keystone Saves, a statewide retirement plan option for employers who otherwise can’t afford to offer one. Pitched as a public-private partnership, it would involve employees contributing to IRA accounts, which would then be managed by a private third-party firm.

While the bill passed the state House this legislative session with bipartisan support — including from Ryan Bizzarro — McClelland calls it the “George W. Bush Great Recession Starter Kit” and says it creates a “privatized, unregulated, self-directed, non-employer sponsored ‘retirement plan.’”

According to her campaign website, McClelland would “protect our workers and our taxpayers from dangerous, unregulated financial products and scam investments like the Keystone Saves program.”

Citing the Biden administration’s 2021 signing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), McClelland argues for strengthening the state treasurer’s contract oversight authority. She would require companies in Pennsylvania to verify their supply chains are free of goods from countries with records of human rights abuses and deny them state contracts if they can’t show they’ve cut ties with these countries.

“Ultimately, I’m excited to talk about all of the things that treasurer can do outside the office, not just inside, there’s so much opportunity there,” she told Spotlight PA.


Stacy Garrity
Republican Treasurer Stacy Garrity. (Courtesy candidate Facebook page)

Stacy Garrity


A native of Bradford County, Garrity graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

The retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel was once nicknamed “the Angel of the Desert” for her service at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, according to a 2004 NPR story, which quoted a former detainee as saying that under Garrity’s oversight, “Nobody could feel it’s like a prison.”

A decorated soldier, Garrity was deployed three times, in Operation Desert Storm (1991), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003), and Operation Enduring Freedom (2008). She received two Bronze Stars and the Legion of Merit award.

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While in the Army Reserve, Garrity became one of the first female vice presidents at Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. The Pennsylvania-based company makes refractory powders, which are used in manufacturing electronics and tools.

She was elected treasurer in 2020, ousting Democrat Joe Torsella. In her bid for a second four-year term, she has focused on transparency, pledged to return unclaimed property and said she wants to reduce wasteful state spending.

Of her record on increasing transparency, Garrity says a key accomplishment was upgrading the Treasury’s transparency portal to enhance public access to state budget and spending information, adding calculated totals and providing more agency-level details.

She has also touted her strides in giving back unclaimed property. The Treasury facilitates the return of these financial assets (which were often abandoned as a result of relocation or oversight) through targeted outreach and a searchable online database through which Pennsylvanians can claim their lost property. Garrity has overseen a significant upgrade of the system for returning property, which began under Torsella.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Treasury holds $4.5 billion in unclaimed property. Garrity has said she has facilitated the return of $550 million during her four years in office, and in an email to Spotlight PA, her campaign quoted her as saying that under her leadership, Treasury has “set all-time records.”

Bizzarro and Garrity have tangled throughout the campaign, especially over unclaimed property. Bizzarro argues Garrity’s claims of breaking records are misleading because her calculations don’t include the new unclaimed property that Pennsylvania receives on an ongoing basis. He contends she oversells the scale of her accomplishment.

Calculated differently, he argues, Torsella’s numbers were better.

Garrity disagrees. “I’m much more interested in the number of claims being paid out and the amount of money being returned,” Garrity said. “People are still being hit hard by inflation, so I think we should focus on the impact we’re having on families across the state, not some abstract percentage calculation.”

The Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization recently reviewed all 50 states’ records on returning property and sorted states into four tiers. Pennsylvania, Garrity said, is in the top tier.

“So no matter what method you use to judge it, here’s the bottom line: Under my watch, Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property returns are better than ever,” she said.

McClelland has largely stayed out of the unclaimed property spat, calling the issue an “easy sell [that] doesn’t take a lot of thought or really aggressive analysis on a complex system,” in a conversation with Spotlight PA.

Garrity has been criticized for her connections with former President Donald Trump, particularly for speaking at a rally that sought to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election, a day before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S Capitol.

“The election from this November is tarnished forever,” Garrity, who was then treasurer-elect, said at the rally.

Most of the criticism has come from Bizzarro, who at a recent news conference said, “Stacy Garrity implored people to question the integrity of our election. … She used her platform to promote and spread lies that instigated the Jan. 6 attack on our democracy.”

“Despite Ryan’s misleading claims about my involvement in January 6, I was nowhere near Washington at the time. In fact, I issued a statement denouncing the attacks on the Capitol as they were ongoing,” said Garrity in an email from a campaign official. “My appearance at a January 5th rally in Harrisburg was to state that the election process had been tarnished by unelected bureaucrats who ignored the election law as written.”

Garrity has also weighed in on abortion (she supported the overturn of Roe v. Wade) and increased investments in Israel after October’s Hamas attacks.

Endorsements: Pennsylvania Republican Party.

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