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Victoria County Treasurer GOP primary questionnaire

Feb. 16, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 15, 2014 at 8:16 p.m.


Editor's note: To help voters learn more about the candidates, the Advocate is printing profiles provided by the League of Women Voters in contested races in the March 4 Democratic and Republican parties' primaries. Monday's profile spotlights candidates for the Republican Party nomination for Victoria County treasurer. The winner will face Democratic Party candidate Jennifer Rick Foster in the Nov. 4 general election.

Sean Kennedy

Background and qualifications:

Graduate of St. Joseph High School

Earned a degree in business administration from University of Houston-Victoria.

Worked in the private sector for 25 years.

Experience preparing budgets.

Responsible for weekly payroll.

Why are you seeking this office?

I will continue to provide taxpayers what they expect in the safekeeping of their tax dollars. Our country experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression and now not the time to look for increased yield in investments that have risk. Since becoming treasurer in 2007 I've completed over 400 hours of continuing education specific to treasurers duties and safe investing. My first year in office I achieved certification as a County Investment Officer. My training stressed safety of principal. My job is not necessarily being the county's banker but keeping the taxpayers money safe at the bank.

What are three goals you would set for your term and how would you propose to achieve them?

Victoria County is in the planning stage of migrating our financial software to a new version. I am responsible for payroll for more than 600 employees. Migration will affect how payroll is processed. Planned completion is in 2015. Part of the migration to new financial software will allow us to provide employee pay stubs through secure email. This will save considerable time sorting pay stubs for distribution as well as time spent by supervisors picking up pay stubs from my office. I will bring remote deposit back. This product scans checks and uploads a file to the electronic funds transfer network.

What are specific ways the County Treasurer could enhance the county's investment portfolio (while still keeping funds safe and liquid)?

Our economy is recovering, but the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates low. Public Investment Act and the county's investment policy allow only low risk, relatively short-term investments. Investing public funds is not all about earning yield. Allowable investments are about safety of principal, liquidity and yield in that order. Short-term interest rates are near zero. To achieve higher return than what we currently earn, funds would need to be committed to a three-year investment. I actively work with brokers watching for safe investments that meet the county's liquidity needs with increased yield and will continue to do so.

What opportunities exist to further streamline and reduce the cost of financial transactions for this office?

The county's contract with our depository bank includes fees for services. This contract is nearing renewal or extension. Through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process with banks, it might be possible to reduce service fees. Another savings is using automated clearing house, or ACH, process for making accounts payable payments to vendors rather than checks. As part of the check and balance of government, the auditor and treasurer co-sign checks. To ACH a payment, the auditor and I would need to agree to a new policy. I believe ACH will soon be the way we make most payments.

What challenges does the County Treasurer's Office face and any ideas you have on how to resolve?

One of the treasurer's duties is reporting state fees. This takes the cooperation of many county offices to ensure fees they collect are receipted properly. State fees are payable quarterly. My work experience with the county before I was elected treasurer provides me an understanding of how fees are collected. In today's uncertain financial world, finding safe investments for your tax dollars takes experience, training and education that I bring to the treasurer's office. Safekeeping of your tax dollars is my No. 1 job. Treasurers are much more than the county's banker.

Lisa Hernandez

Background and qualifications:

A Victoria native and a Republican for 25-plus years. I have 29 years in the banking and financial business. Seventeen of those years with First Victoria, now Prosperity Bank, currently serving as a vice president in the private banking and wealth management area.

Why are you seeking this office?

I'm running to use my experience in financial management for the benefit of the taxpayers of Victoria County. I will use that experience to make safe, conservative & smart choices that will help grow our County's money. I also take pride in serving my community, I serve in many leadership roles in my community and now I would love to serve My County. I believe we all should do our part in serving & helping make our community the best it can be.

What are three goals you would set for your term and how would you propose to achieve them?

As a banker in the private sector, I have had the trust and confidence of clients for many years. I will begin that kind of trust and ethics in public office, maintain an open-door policy and be accessible to all members of the community and also propose safe and smarter choices of investment options for our reserve account, which currently is around $12 million.

What are specific ways the County Treasurer could enhance the county's investment portfolio (while still keeping funds safe and liquid)?

I would again propose to the commissioners court the many avenues available, within state law, of course, smarter investments that provide safe growth opportunities. Our reserve account is what it says - a reserve account - not required to run our county. We can make some investment changes that can give us a better return on our county's money.

What opportunities exist to further streamline and reduce the cost of financial transactions for this office?

Since I'm not in current office, I would need time to transition to my new duties and responsibilities. With the banking experience and regulation policies all banks must follow, this will help with streamlining efficiency and accuracy once I take office. Not everyone will know all that is required after starting a new position, but I'm counting on my 29 years of banking knowledge and the training that is required for all new elected officials.

What challenges does the County Treasurer's Office face and any ideas you have on how to resolve?

The many fiduciary responsibilities and, with our growing county, the due diligence I will have to practice overseeing $140 million in county funds. A challenge I'm looking forward to and willing to take on.

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