W.Va. treasurer to seek seventh term

West Virginia Treasurer John Perdue talks with reporters after announcing his campaign for a seventh term as the state’s chief financial officer. (Photo by Steven Allen Adams)

CHARLESTON — Settling rumors of retirement, state Treasurer John Perdue announced Monday his campaign for an unprecedented seventh term as West Virginia’s chief financial officer.

Perdue, joined on the steps of the Capitol by family, friends and supporters, said he still loves West Virginia and being treasurer.

Perdue, a Democrat, was first elected in 1996 and was re-elected every four years for a total of 22 years in office. In 2016 he became the longest-serving treasurer in West Virginia history, beating the five-term Richard Talbott, who was elected in 1932 and served until 1951.

“People ask me ‘why are you running again at your age,'” Perdue said. “First of all, I’m running because…I love my job, I love what I’m doing, and I love the people of West Virginia. I love fighting for the people of West Virginia. That is what it’s about, ladies and gentlemen: working for you. I’ve never forgotten since I’ve been treasurer that I work for you.”

During his tenure, Perdue started the Smart529 college savings program, which allows parents and grandparents to save money for their children’s college education tax-free. Perdue said the assets in the Smart529 program total more than $2.5 billion.

“Nobody ever believed that we could have a college savings program that would allow parents and grandparents to invest in their children’s education,” Perdue said.

The State Treasurer’s Office Unclaimed Property Program helps reconnect citizens with lost property, such as savings deposits, stocks and uncashed checks. Financial institutions, businesses, insurance companies, utilities and other entities reports unclaimed property to the treasurer’s office where a database is maintained and people can claim their lost property.

Perdue also took credit for creating programs to teach school students about financial literacy, a tax-free savings program for qualified disabled West Virginians to protect them from losing their eligibility for federal benefits and the West Virginia Retirement Plus program for state employees.

“Since I’ve been treasurer, we’ve never lost a penny in the treasurer’s office. Not one penny,” Perdue said. “We had to work hard to bring the treasurer’s office to the forefront, so people know it is their bank, the bank of state government. I’m very proud of that.”

A new program under the supervision of the Treasurer Office is the banking part of West Virginia’s Medical Cannabis law. The office announced in June that it canceled and reissued a request for proposal for banking vendors to apply to handle funds for the Medical Cannabis program since no applicant could meet the requirements.

While the Medical Cannabis Act has been law since 2017, the Legislature didn’t pass a fix for the banking portion of the law until the 2019 session in March after the treasurer warned lawmakers about issues in federal law preventing FDIC-insured banks from handling fees or fines from the program which went into effect last week.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to cross the T’s and dot the I’s,” Perdue said. “I’m confident that we will have medical marijuana, which I really support because there are so many West Virginians out there who need this program and needs the medical marijuana in this state.”

Perdue is being challenged by Riley Moore, a former member of the House of Delegates from Jefferson County, grandson of the late three-term Republican governor Arch Moore and nephew of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Moore filed his precandidacy paperwork in November shortly after being defeated by Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson.

“I welcome John Perdue to the race and I anticipate a spirited discussion over the need for change in West Virginia,” Moore said in a statement. “Our state deserves a state treasurer’s office that is modern, efficient and transparent. I look forward to sharing my message of principles over politics with every voter in the state.”

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