Candidate Interview- Dan Blue III, NC Treasurer

Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Dan Blue III, State Treasurer Candidate

Interview Date: October 5, 2016

Party Affiliation:  Democrat

Interviewed: Conference Call

Committee:

1. Kim Fink
2. Katherine Wyatt
3. Mary Griswold
Name: Dan Blue
Phone: 1-919-229-9323
E-mail:info@bluefornc.com
Address: P.O. Box 1877, Raleigh, NC, 27602

Educational Background:

Holds 3 degrees from Duke; BSE in biomedical engineering in 1995, Law degree from School of Law (juris doctor), and a Masters of Business from Fuqua School of Business. Attained both graduate degrees in 2001.

Experience:

GlaxoWellcome, while doing internship he founded Healthmatics a software company that made computer based patient records for office based physicians (those not in the hospitals).

After grad school, he worked for Bear Stearns investment firm, where he served healthcare clients including pharmaceutical, biotech, diagnostic and service companies.

When he left banking, he worked for a consulting company, Campbell Alliance, in same health care areas working in NJ. and NY. He helped open offices for this firm. This brought him back to Raleigh where he started the Pharmaceutical Institute.

In 2009, he came back to the family law firm, Blue LLP, doing financial transactions for the state and for private colleges and universities.

Demonstrations of Leadership:
Active in Democratic Party, starting at a low level all the way up to the chair of the Wake County Democratic Party.  Serves on the board of the Salvation Army in Raleigh. Serves on the Duke School of Nursing board.  Serves on the board of Wake Med, and serves on board of DHIC which is a leading provider of affordable housing developments.

Memberships and Associations;

See above.  Attends church at Davie Street Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.  His wife teaches at Edenton Street United Method Church in the early childhood program. Shared that his family is in public life; his father is a state senator now.

Why are you running for this office?

The Treasurer is an important office.  Things that drive NC go through that office. He believes in responsible leadership that respects and protects the public employees, taxpayers and communities in the state. He feels it is important to be more than a manager; you need to also be a leader.

There are 3 important things to him to address through this office.  They are managing the state’s pension and retirement system, administering the state’s health care plan, and protecting North Carolina’s AAA credit rating through good state and local governance.

There are 900,000 active and retired employees with $90 billion dollars invested for state employees. The state employees’ health plan covers 700,000 people across the state.   Maintaining NC’s triple A rating will ensure that, when we get bonds, they are at the lowest cost possible. He wants to make sure NC’s commitment to education, the work force, and affordable health care are maintained for the wellbeing of all of NC, and he recognizes that the treasurer’s office touches on all these areas.

What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?

Fairly flat.  He has a small team that helps him with strategy and scheduling, fundraising, polling and media.  He has been successful in campaign fund raising and has raised enough money to be competitive in this down ballot race.

Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire? Why?

Hamilton.  Because of his involvement in banking and his opinion that the nation as a whole has to hear all sides of an issue to do what is best for everyone.  He stated that this has always been the best way to gain consensus and to be sure that the best ideas come forward.  Hamilton provided that role.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

He doesn’t fully agree.  He says consensus is a good outcome, but thinks that having a vocal argument on how you get there is a good thing too.  Mr. Blue said the private sector does a better job of keeping everyone satisfied with outcomes. He feels that you need all the players to buy into the final solution, to keep arguing until everyone gets as comfortable as they can be with the compromise, and he says that you have to work this way to preserve relationships and to be able to work together going forward.

Which President do you most admire?
Why?

Abe Lincoln.  Because he dealt with a challenging part of history.  Our country could have been ripped apart, so he was forced to find what worked for all of America to preserve the union. Today, we are not always challenged this way. Lincoln dealt with slavery, states’ rights, and how to form a more perfect union, His leadership, even if imperfect, was to make sure everyone was heard, and to make sure we still had a country.

Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:

a. An evolving document who’s meaning changes with time?

b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?

The answer is “a.”  It’s a living document that needs to be re- interpreted and re-visited from time to time in order to better represent the people of this country. We as a people evolve, and our laws should represent the people it represents.

Separation of powers is an important principle between the 3 arms of the federal government and between the feds and state governments. One of his most challenging classes in law school was Constitutional law because, as an engineer, he didn’t spend under-graduate time studying history.  In law school, studying the constitution, court cases, and case law surrounding civil rights, minorities, etc, made him feel that the laws should reflect those people who live in the country now. The bones and structure of the Constitution have served us well, but it is ok to change the drapes.

Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened?

In investment banking, when working a deal, part of that process is doing what is called due diligence.  You kick tires on all aspects of the deal. In this particular case, raising money for a client, all representations must “pass muster.” When all contracts, etc., are checked, the bank signs off internally because they have money at risk. The Public decides on whether to buy a security or not. Everything has to be done honestly. In going through results of due diligence, he had some concerns that some items needed further investigation. There was pressure from above to get the job done. He had discovered that some things got pushed down and often short cuts were taken.
There was pressure by supervisors to follow the short cuts. There came a question about how much do you disclose about a client or company’s standing? He got in large argument with his supervisor over this process. He is believer in speaking your mind, argue your point and communicate your concern. His due diligence was holding up the deal.

How did you resolve it?

He did his due diligence, even though it was the hard thing. He personally put in the extra time needed to be sure he did the right thing before signing off on the deal. At the time, this approach was the more difficult road due to pressure from above. He takes all his work this seriously.

Where do individual rights come from?

Our Creator and the law. You have to try to make sure the legal rights follow the spiritual ones.  Some laws are purely legal, like driving on the right side of the road.

What do you know about Common Core?

At its heart, it is an attempt to have uniform standards in education across the country in order to help to manage and measure what we are doing in our education system. The engineer in him finds it interesting to explore the new and novel ways of thinking and math.

What is your position on it and why?

Mr. Blue feels that national standards, if they can be agreed to, are a good thing, but you have to respect states’ rights and respect boundary lines by definition. He is in favor of Common Core though he indicated implementation has been a problem. He says it is important to continue the conversation on standards.

What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?

Mr. Blue is pro-gun rights although he does not own a gun.  He states it is a legal right to own and maintain a gun to protect yourself and your family. He said that living in Raleigh is different than living in the country.  Being able to access arms is important.

Regarding registration, he does believe in registering gun ownership as a way to be sure those owners are trained and  that they know their responsibilities.  He stated that registration is appropriate at the county and state level.  He said that someone should have those records, but he feels that registration in a national data base has privacy implications.

Regarding gun free zones, Mr Blue reflected on mass shootings, and said they tend to happen in gun free zones.  He said he has to wonder what would have happened if someone had been armed. He is not comfortable with guns in school, except for the resource officer, though it may be OK to have a weapon secured in a vehicle.  He does worry about the consequences of a mix of gun holders in a conflict,and he asked how do you or the police discern who is who?  He said that we need more conversations about this. How do we as a society find the balance when we have an active shooter, and you can’t tell the good guy from the bad guy? There is a fog of uncertainty.

What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?

In law school, while studying Constitutional law, you recognize certain things that the state has dominion over – a state action or interest. There are dividing lines between the church and the state. Sometimes these lines are more gray and not as clear. What is interesting is the church and the state have the same purpose – the betterment of the community. There is protection to the church from state over-reach, as well as protection to practice whatever religion you choose (within the confines of the law).  It’s necessary to make sure that there is not one preferred religion over another.
If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?

There are a couple items:

1. The state pension.  It’s important to make sure it is protected for the retirees now and moving forward.

2. Healthcare.  A big issue in healthcare is “pay as you go.”  There’s a $30 billon dollar liability due in the next 30 to 50 years.  He wants to reduce the costs of those liabilities.  He wants to talk about that liability responsibly, and to drive conversation based on the health of our state’s people.

Our infrastructure is in need of major repair.  We need to make the investment to the infrastructure that we have been avoiding.  We need to finance them properly. We need to address water quality and water treatment facilities. Our remedies have to be responsible so current taxpayers are paying their fair share and generational taxpayers who will be reaping the benefits of that investment are also paying their fair share.  We have to have practical solutions.

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