March 9th, 2010 5:33 pm | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Oregon's New State Treasurer is Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler

Wheeler sunglasses

Here's a political stunner: Gov. Ted Kulongoski named Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler to be Oregon's new state treasurer.

Wheeler takes over after the recent death of Treasurer Ben Westlund.

“Ted Wheeler brings the perfect balance of expertise from both the public and private sectors to this job with an impressive record managing the county's budget to a working knowledge of the financial industry,” Kulongoski is quoted as saying in a news release. “A fifth generation Oregonian with ties across the state, I am confident that Ted will serve Oregonians well as the State Treasurer.”

Wheeler's second-in-command, county Chief Operating Officer Jana McLellan, will take over as county chair when Wheeler resigns on Thursday.

State Sen. Rick Metsger (D-Welches) told WW yesterday he'll also run for teasurer. The Oregonian is reporting that state Sen. Chris Telfer (R-Bend) also is running.

Here's a statement from Wheeler:
This weekend, Oregon lost a champion, leader and good friend in Ben Westlund. In many ways Ben represented exactly the kind of leader we need today. He brought both civility and passion to government and he rose above partisan divisions. He came from a successful career in the private sector but he understood and cared deeply about public service. My sympathies go to his family Libby, B.J. and Taylor.

It is with conflicted emotions that I accept Governor Kulongoski's appointment to the office of Oregon State Treasurer. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of this great state and believe I am well prepared for the challenges ahead but I am saddened by the circumstances that bring me here today.

I imagine in some corners of the state, people will ask: “Who is Ted Wheeler?” The short answer is that I currently serve as the chief executive officer of the largest county in Oregon, that I was a senior manager of an investment firm in my private sector career and that I have graduate degrees in government and business. In short, I've got a good resume for this job. Frankly, I've thought for some time that I might run for Treasurer at some point in the future. I never expected it to be this soon.

Accepting this appointment will require me to resign from my position as Multnomah County Chair effective Thursday, March 11. Per the Multnomah County Charter, my designee, Chief Operating Officer Jana McLellen will become Acting Chair upon my resignation. The Board of County Commissioners will choose an interim Chair to serve until the end of 2010. The permanent position will be on the May ballot. I will remain as involved as necessary to ensure a smooth transition.

Today I will withdraw my candidacy for a second term as County Chair and I will file for election as Oregon State Treasurer.

Several years ago, I chose to leave a successful career in the private sector because I believed that I had something to offer the people of my community. Now the Governor has given me the opportunity to serve the whole state, and I can hardly say no. I wish the circumstances were different. I certainly would have preferred different timing, but I accept this challenge without regret and with the confidence that I can provide good stewardship of Oregon's resources and good value to the taxpayers.

(Photo of Wheeeler by Byron Beck)
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