Ellis for treasurer: The Republican has experience and a steady hand

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With the economy on life support, and federal lawmakers having played ER physicians trying to revive a patient, Pennsylvania voters should consider carefully whom they want for state treasurer.

Tom Ellis, Republican candidate for state Treasurer, talks about:

Rob McCord, Democratic candidate for state Treasurer, talks about:

This is the keeper of the commonwealth's purse, the custodian of billions of dollars from state agencies, including the retirement systems for state and school employees. The treasurer also invests and makes deposits for most state agencies. So, naturally, the position calls for integrity, financial acumen and a steady hand.

The incumbent is Robin L. Wiessman, who was chosen to serve in an acting capacity after Bob Casey went to the U.S. Senate. She is not running.

Democrat Rob McCord, 49, of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, has had 14 years of experience as a financial executive handling more than $1 billion in assets. He has a bachelor's degree from Harvard and an MBA from the Wharton School and worked as an aide on Capitol Hill early in his career. He has never held public office.

Mr. McCord prides himself on not coming from a political machine and sees his familiarity with Wall Street as the credential that has groomed him for this office. But he has also raised large amounts of money from friends connected with Wall Street, which is not the most admired constituency in today's world. While he promises to be responsible and transparent if elected, the question of his independence was raised in the primary and has been repeated by his general-election rival.

Republican candidate Tom Ellis, 49, of Elkins Park, also Montgomery County, is a partner in the public finance department of law firm Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll. His work with tax-exempt financing projects, primarily with local governments and municipal authorities, is a useful, if different, sort of credential for the treasurer's post.

He also has executive experience, which would help in a department with a $60 million budget and staff of more than 500. He was chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and a commissioner in Cheltenham Township. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and its school of law, where he was editor of the Law Review.

In addition to his good credentials, Mr. Ellis has interesting ideas on campaign finance reform (which Mr. McCord is not much interested in) and improving the state's college tuition savings program. He is also not politically ambitious beyond this post.

The Libertarians also have a candidate, Berlie Etzel, 77, of Shippenville, Clarion County, a retired college and high school mathematics teacher, but he seems overmatched in this race.

Our choice is Republican Tom Ellis for state treasurer. He is the steady hand without the big ties to Wall Street.


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