Democrat Fiona Ma, a member of the State Board of Equalization, will face Republican businessman Greg Conlon, in the November general election to succeed John Chiang as state treasurer.
Ma topped the field of five candidates in Tuesday’s primary with 43.2 percent of the vote, while Conlon was second with 22 percent, according to semi-official results released Wednesday by the Secretary of State’s Office.
Cudahy City Councilman Jack Guerrero, a Republican, was third with 19.8 percent. Democrat Vivek Viswanathan, a policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and a special adviser in the office of Gov. Jerry Brown from 2017 through January, was fourth with 12.8 percent. Retired steam engineer Kevin Akin of the Peace and Freedom Party was fifth with 2.2 percent.
The state treasurer is the state’s lead asset manager, banker and financier, serves as chair or a member of numerous state authorities, boards and commissions, and finances a variety of public works, including schools and higher education facilities, transportation projects, parks, and environmental projects.
“I’m running for treasurer to make sure our state works for everyone,” said Ma, a member of the Assembly from 2006-12 and San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 2002-06 and certified public accountant. She was elected to the State Board of Equalization in 2014.
“As treasurer, I will make sure we have access to the capital necessary to complete the projects Californians deserve while also helping to create good jobs and keep our economy growing. This includes securing the financing necessary for California’s infrastructure projects — transportation, public schools, housing, water quality, and pollution reduction.
Ma is seeking to be the 10th woman and sixth Asian-American to be elected to statewide office in California.
Conlon, also a CPA, is a former member of the California Public Utilities Commission and California Transportation Commission. He lost to Chiang in 2014.
Conlon said his priorities as treasurer would include starting a defined contribution plan for new state employees while keeping the present pension plan for current employees, improving the state’s credit ratings and amending the state constitution to make the treasurer and controller positions appointed by the governor rather than be elected to help “us recruit truly expert people.”
Chiang opted to run for governor instead of seeking a second term as treasurer. He finished fifth in Tuesday’s primary.
Viswanathan made a 625-mile series of runs from Sacramento to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Viswanathan told City News Service “the first reason” he made the runs was because “a lot of people had told me in order to run a campaign … for statewide office in California, your job is basically to sit in a room and call wealthy individuals, corporations and special interests for money and that’s the only way you can get your message across.
“I simply felt there had to be a better way. I thought about it and I told myself, `If I’m going to run a statewide campaign, the best way is to actually run statewide.”’
Conducting a series of runs during a campaign for office is “a wonderful way to get my message across, a wonderful way to meet people who I otherwise wouldn’t meet, it’s a wonderful way to go through communities that too many candidates don’t have either the time or the inclination to,” Viswanathan said.