GOP County treasurer candidates differ on investments

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Feb. 7, 2014 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2014 at 8:07 p.m.

Victoria County Treasurer Sean Kennedy will seek a third term in office, but newcomer Lisa Hernandez is vying for the same seat.

The two are on the ballot for the Republican primary set for March 4.

Voters are already participating in the process by contributing to each candidate's campaign. As of Jan. 15, Kennedy had raised $250 while his opponent had taken in $16,390.

Kennedy, 57, said his position is about more than being the "county banker"; he is responsible for payroll for more than 600 employees as well as overseeing investments of about $140 million, including Citizens Medical Center, the navigation district and the county.

The seat was previously held by Cathy Bailey.

"When I took office in 2007, the housing market collapse hadn't happened," Kennedy said. "I watched interest rates that we were earning 5.5 percent go down to .5."

That experience makes him cautious with investments.

His opponent, Hernandez, 51, said she would be more aggressive with investing the county's reserve funds.

She said the incumbent is "a bit too conservative."

When reviewing previous financial reports, she suggested reserve funds could have been invested in accounts that would give a higher return.

"I'm not going to wheel and deal" with risky products, she said, but there are other accounts that can earn the county a better return on taxpayer money.

Hernandez has 29 years experience in the banking industry and is vice president in private banking and wealth management for Prosperity Bank.

"With the banking experience I have, I have no doubt that I can be a good steward for our county's money," Hernandez said.

Kennedy is banking on his previous experience working for the county in the auditor's office and as a grant manager for the health department as well as a small-business owner in the ranching industry.

He said he has the knowledge of the law to ensure all spending is done according to the legislature. He sees his job as protecting taxpayers' money.

"This is the checks and balances of county government," Kennedy said.

He serves as president of Victoria City/County Employees Federal Credit Union board as well as president of Region 12 for the County Treasurers Association of Texas, which represents 24 counties.

He is a certified county treasurer and county investment officer and holds a business administration degree from the University of Houston-Victoria.

Hernandez, who worked her way through the ranks of the industry without graduating college, said she has the strong will and work ethic to do the job.

Hernandez is involved in numerous organizations including Theatre Victoria Executive Board, Victoria Chamber of Commerce - Minority Business Council Cinco de Mayo, Helping Other Students to Succeed (H.O.S.T.S.) mentoring and serves Parkway Church as the treasurer. Hernandez said she will continue her community involvement.

Serving the community "made me who I am and keeps me going," she said.



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