Dagsboro resident Colleen Davis has filed to run for state treasurer, as a Democrat. Davis, 38, grew up in Sussex County and returned two years ago with her family.
“I've been involved in a lot of humanitarian efforts of different kinds. For the last few years — and maybe a lot of people feel similar — I started to see a lot of changes in government that didn't really align with my values.
“I knew I could continue to act personally in my own community, but there's a certain point where you want to step in” and serve the broader community, Davis said.
To Davis, the office of state treasurer seems a good fit. She said she began to consider it after a fundraiser at which she was telling her own story, and the story of her family — which she now tells on her campaign website.
Davis' childhood started out without a care, in a large suburban Baltimore family. Then her father became ill, and she and her seven siblings learned that “life is hard, and it can turn on a dime” she said. Davis recalls watching her dollhouse being sold at auction, along with other family belongings, after her father's business partner left for Canada with the firm's money.
Davis, who is running unopposed, will face Republican incumbent Kenneth Simpler in this year's election. She said she feels that her communication skills and life experience make her a better fit for the job.
She said people who know Simpler have told her as much, citing their feeling that “it's really difficult to negotiate anything or collaborate on anything” with him and that, unlike Davis, he “doesn't understand what it's like to need a pension or a benefits package.”
A recent move by Simpler and Gov. John Carney that would force legislators to limit spending in years of strong economy, saving it for leaner years, was rejected by Democrats in both chambers of the state legislature at the close of this year's legislative session. Davis said she agreed with that move, calling the proposed “budget-smoothing” amendment “a little bit of overreach” by Simpler and Carney. “Putting a set-aside fund in the hands of the state treasurer is not exactly a good idea,” she said.
While Delaware's finances are ranked 19th in the nation — and fourth in the nation on credit issues — the state's rank at 37th in the nation for short-term stability is concerning, Davis said.
“I think we can do better than that.”
Davis, who works as a consultant for 2.0 Healthcare, said her work with large hospital groups across the country has given her valuable experience in seeking solutions that work for corporations, as well as the communities they serve.
In general, Davis said, her negotiating skills would hold her in good stead as state treasurer.
“Bringing people to the table when they're on opposite ends,” she said, “I've been able to do that. If we're going to bring more stability, that requires being able to convey to multiple parties that we're speaking the same language,” Davis said.
Throughout her life, Davis said, she has been inspired by her family, from her grandmother's involvement with the NAACP to her parents' founding of a school to enhance the workforce skills of Delaware residents. Having the support of her parents, Rosemary and Bill Carroll, has meant the world to her, she said.
Davis herself has worked in disaster relief, including ongoing efforts in Haiti, among other humanitarian projects.
She said her parents' values have always informed the directions her life has taken, regardless of whether they're in the same political party.
“They've always been champions of mine,” Davis said. “Whenever something seemed insurmountable, seemed like ‘There's no way I can do this,'” she said, “they always said, ‘Push on.”
By Kerin Magill