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Asked why he wants to be Missouri State Treasurer, Mark Powell’s answer is as crisp as a new dollar bill. He thinks the state treasurer should be a banker/investment person just as we expect the auditor to be an auditor and the attorney general to be an attorney. Wow, what a concept. Experience and competence in a job that is more often than not used as a stepping stone for future political career goals. At age 57, Powell, Mayor of Arnold in Jefferson County, is not thinking beyond doing the best job he can as state treasurer.
A careful look at his resume says it all. A degree in accounting, three decades of banking and investment experience, school board member, city council, city treasurer, all kinds of civic clubs and boards. As mayor of Arnold since 2001, Powell’s low-key, personable leadership style has allowed him to rally voters to support construction of “quality of life” projects such as a new $15 million recreation center which opened in 2005. His next big project is a 16,000 square foot library connected to the rec center. Arnold is a small town but has a mayor who knows how to think big.
Powell’s visit to a Democratic club in western St. Louis County on Monday was just one of hundreds of stops over the past four years since he lost the treasurer’s race to Sarah Steelman. Given the mood of voters in 2004, Powell did remarkably well in that race, losing by just 5 percentage points.
With his banker’s mustache, white shirt and conservative ties, his looks can be deceiving. Powell is definitely not stodgy when it comes to what he loves best about small town Missouri – the parades. He and his wife, Pam, never miss a chance to press the flesh along the streets of any town hosting a jamboree, county fair, holiday parade or carnival. In fact, after he gave his daughter his old Dodge, he bought a Corvette just for the parades. Being from Arnold where many of his neighbors work at the Chrysler plant in Fenton, Powell is adamant about supporting the local product. One of his trademarks is his Dodge Caravan with over 90,000 miles on it. His other car is a Jeep.
As Powell says, the treasurer’s job is to pay the bills, balance the checkbook and invest the state’s money. As steward of public money and a member of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System board, it’s up to the treasurer to find the highest rate of return for pension funds, not to use that power to reward friends and campaign contributors.
Check Powell’s website for announcement of campaign headquarters opening soon. http://www.mayorpowell.com