LITTLE ROCK — A city director, an office manager and a county clerk are running for state treasurer and pledging to restore public trust in the office, which has been vacant since Democrat Martha Shoffner resigned in May 2013 after her arrest on public corruption charges.

LITTLE ROCK — A city director, an office manager and a county clerk are running for state treasurer and pledging to restore public trust in the office, which has been vacant since Democrat Martha Shoffner resigned in May 2013 after her arrest on public corruption charges.


Shoffner was convicted on federal charges of extortion and bribery in March and is awaiting sentencing.


Democrat Karen Sealy Garcia, 59, of Hot Springs is a certified public accountant and has been a Hot Springs city director since 2011. She worked in management positions as an accountant for 30 years before retiring last year. She and her husband, Jorge, have four children.


Libertarian Chris Hayes, 56, of Little Rock is an office manager for Woodbury Technical Service and a Navy veteran. He has one child.


Republican Dennis Milligan, 57, of Benton has been Saline County circuit clerk since 2011 and is the owner and operator of Water Treatment Services Inc. He is a former chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas. He and his wife, Tina, have one child.


1. What in your background qualifies you to be state treasurer?


Garcia: I’m a professional accountant, not a professional politician. For 30 years I’ve been a certified public accountant and for 26 years of those years I was an accountant for Weyerhaeuser, a Fortune 500 company. Weyerhaeuser sent me across the country, and the world, to implement intricate financial management and control systems. During my tenure there I earned a reputation as a "no-nonsense" accountant. I also serve as a city director on the nonpartisan Hot Springs City Board of Directors, helping oversee the city’s budget and policies. My decades of experience as a financial manager make me uniquely qualified to clean up the mess in the state treasurer’s office.


Hayes: As a citizen of the United States and Arkansas resident, (over) 18 years of age, and registered to vote I meet the background requirements to run for treasurer of the state of Arkansas. However I have a lot of experience in many different companies. Knowing both how to balance books and manage personnel. For the last seven years, I have managed a small business, overseeing all money coming into and going out of this business, I am very familiar with maintaining a budget, and working within that budget, taking advantage of discounts when available and will look for the best in the field for achieving the most for the people of the state of Arkansas.


Milligan: For 30 years, I have been a successful businessman in Arkansas, owning and operating multiple businesses that provide careers to anywhere between 50 and 80 Arkansans at a time. I started my business from the ground up and now have customers in 17 states. My experience in business has given me knowledge in finance, investment and banking, all of which are needed as state treasurer. I know how to invest money to get the best return because I’ve done it with my own. I am currently the Saline County circuit clerk, and have a proven record of modernizing and innovating the office through technology that has both saved the hard working taxpayer’s money and provided a better, more efficient service. The treasurer’s office has six different divisions and 33 employees in it. I have the real life experience to manage and operate that office as the people expect, want and deserve.


2. How would you restore public confidence in the integrity of the treasurer’s office?


Garcia: To restore the people’s confidence in the office I’ll use my financial management experience to clean up the mess left by the last person elected to the state treasurer’s office. To reform the office, I created a detailed Code of Ethics plan to which you can view on my website www.garciafortreasurer.com. My plan creates a system of transparency so taxpayers know exactly what is happening with their money at all times. My plan prohibits the state treasurer and the employees from receiving gifts, creates needed transparency by updating the office’s website daily with financial transactions and has strict requirements for anyone wishing to do business with the state treasurer’s office. My plan will end the embarrassment brought to the treasurer’s office.


Hayes: I will work to keep all Arkansans’ investments within the government for the people of Arkansas. I will work diligently with our Legislature, vendors, banks, investment firms to provide the best for all Arkansans.


Milligan: In February, I made a public pledge that if elected, neither I nor any member of my staff would accept any gifts from those who do business with the state treasurer’s office. In August, I released a list of best practices I would implement that would use technology and innovation to make the business and records of the state treasurer’s office open, transparent and more accessible to the public. I believe strongly that had this pledge and these practices been in place while Democrat Martha Shoffner was treasurer, she would not have been able to take kick-backs and stain this public office. If you can, image Arkansas with the best run treasurer’s office in the nation, not one running in the shadow of disgrace. That is my end goal and I will follow a simple, clear cut motto if elected: "Obey the law, but more importantly, do what’s right."


3. Why are you the best candidate to reform the office?


Garcia: As a certified public accountant, I’m the only candidate with the right kind of experience to protect the taxpayers’ money. As a "no-nonsense" accountant, I’ll reform the office by implementing new financial controls to avoid the embarrassments of the last person elected to this office. Unfortunately my opponent, Dennis Milligan, has a long track record of unethical and embarrassing behavior. Arkansas can’t afford to have Milligan’s embarrassing antics in the state treasurer’s office. From his being caught blackmailing a state representative at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, to costing the taxpayers $90,000 due to his incompetent management, Dennis Milligan has proven that he can’t be trusted with taxpayers’ money. Arkansans can’t afford to go from a Pie Box to a Doughnut Box. As state treasurer, I’ll protect the taxpayers’ money, make sound financial investments and restore the public’s trust. (Editor’s note: Milligan has not been charged with blackmail or any other crime.)


Hayes: I am the best candidate to answer to the people, without baggage of owing political favors to any party, thus insuring the integrity of the office of treasurer. Libertarians are quite independent thinking, but agree less government is by far better on those governed. Make real changes in Arkansas: Stop spending a two sided coin. Vote Chris Hayes treasurer.


Milligan: The state treasurer’s office has been in one political party’s control since Reconstruction. It’s time this position had a new occupant that will approach it from a fresh perspective. The people — not a political party — should be in control of this office. The simple truth is, I come from the private sector that is extremely customer service orientated. Voters want accountability, results and common sense solutions all done within a spending discipline. I have the business background and experience to implement these principles and deliver them with no excuses. I have been blessed with success in my professional business life. I am running for this office because — like a lot of Arkansans — I was sickened by the corruption that occurred under Shoffner. I am not running for this office to further a political party’s desires or financially enrich myself, but to restore trust and integrity.