By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Democratic Mayor Connie Moran says she has proven she has the ability to work across party lines to handle difficult issues as mayor of Ocean Springs and says she can do the same as state treasurer.
Moran, who is in her second term as mayor of the Gulf Coast city, spoke Monday at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/capitol press corps luncheon about her campaign for state treasurer.
“I am known as a community builder and a consensus builder,” said Moran, who said all seven members of her Board of Alderman are Republican.
State Personnel Board Executive Director Lynn Fitch, the Republican nominee, citing a prior engagement, declined an opportunity for a joint appearance at the Stennis luncheon with Moran. Fitch is considered a heavy favorite in the race.
Moran said her background with masters degrees in economic, finance and international commerce, as well as her experience as an economist with the World Trade Organization in Geneva, will give her the skills to handle one of the primary duties of the treasurer – overseeing the investment of state funds.
She also said she can help the state’s economic development team since she previously served as the managing director for the state’s economic development office in Germany and also served as executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development League.
The treasurer serves on the governing board of the Public Employees Retirement System, which has become an election issue since Republican Gov. Haley Barbour formed a study commission to recommend possible changes to the retirement system that provides benefits to state employees and local government workers
Moran pledged she would oppose efforts “to tinker” with the annual cost of living adjustment retirees receive and would oppose efforts “to morph” the system into a defined contribution plan where benefits would be based on investment earnings.
Moran questioned whether Fitch, a Barbour appointee, would oppose the recommendations of his commission.
“I am not beholden to a party,” Moran said. “I will do what is right for the people.”
Moran took a contrarian view when compared to other statewide officials on the three citizen-sponsored initiatives that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. While most statewide candidates have voiced suport for at least two of the three, she said she would probably vote against all three.
She said she was adopted and, in part because of that, was strongly against abortion, but said she fears the initiative that would define life as beginning at fertilization could have “unintended consequences,” especially in instances where the life of the mother could be put in jeopardy. Plus, she said there should be exceptions in cases of rape and incest.
As an economic developer, she said the state might need to have the power to take a piece of property in extreme circumstances – at a fair price – to ensure a large corporation could come to the state. For that reason, she said she would vote against the initiative that would prohibit the government from taking private land for the use of another private entity.
And she said she opposes the initiative requiring people to display a state-issued photo identification to vote. She said her 82-year-old mother no longer drives so she will drive her to a Department of Public Safety location and wait in line for an hour or longer to get her mother an ID so she can vote. But she said she fears that many older people might not have someone to carry them to get the ID.
Fitch and Moran are vying to replace two-term treasurer Tate Reeves, a Republican, who faces minor party opposition on Nov. 8 for the office of lieutenant governor.