Q&A: Learn more about candidates for Williamson County treasurer

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Two candidates are listed on the Nov. 6 ballot for Williamson County treasurer. As a chief financial custodian, the treasurer is responsible for the safekeeping and investing of the county’s money. Primary duties of the position include maintaining the county’s financial accounts and disbursing funds as directed by county commissioners. Candidates were asked to submit responses by email. Some responses may be edited for length.

The candidates

Scott Heselmeyer (Republican Party) (*incumbent)

Occupation: Williamson County treasurer
Experience: Serving as Williamson County Treasurer for the past 18 months, an attorney in Williamson County for 14 years, dealing with multi-million-dollar banking and real estate transactions on a daily basis and serving on the board of a local community bank.
Top priorities: Improve the safety and efficiency in cash handling procedures. In the past 18 months, we have more than doubled the rate of return on the county’s assets, and we will produce over $8 million in investment income this fiscal year.

Omar Kadir (Democratic Party)

Occupation: Accountant
Experience: Entire career in the accounting and auditing industry
Top priorities: Simplify the Treasurer’s office through community outreach programs and working with high school/senior centers to create more financial literacy for constituents, provide better financial reporting for County Commissioners and investigate why our county agencies continue to have their budgets slashed while our county continues to grow.

Why are you running for this position?

Heselmeyer: Last year, I was honored to be unanimously appointed as Williamson County Treasurer by the Commissioner’s Court, receiving the vote of commissioners from both parties. My legal and financial background help me take a unique approach to the office. This, and a career spent helping small businesses in Williamson County succeed, are making a real difference in sound management of the county’s finances. I am looking forward to continuing that leadership through a full term.

Kadir: It’s time to put an accountant in an accounting role. As a single WilCo voter, I want a qualified candidate, that has direct experience in the accounting and auditing profession, to be a diligent steward of public funds, a relationship builder that values community buy-in, and is also a challenger to the status quo.

What financial problems do you believe are currently facing the county?

Heselmeyer: Rapid growth can lead to an overwhelming debt burden if residential growth outpaces commercial development. Williamson County must have a strong economic development plan to continue to address the pressures associated with rapid growth. We must have a county leadership team with experience in economic development. I have been involved in economic development in Williamson County for more than a decade, and I am honored to now be a part of that leadership team.

Kadir: Too much debt. As of 2016, our taxpayer funded long term debt ranks among the highest for counties across the state, at over $2,000 per taxpayer. Compared to $750 in Travis County, $700 in Harris County, and $26 in Dallas County, our total debt $1.3 billion is ranked third highest among 256 Texas counties.

What is the top challenge facing the county treasurer’s office?

Heselmeyer: It’s no secret that Williamson County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. This growth naturally results in a corresponding growth in the volume of work that flows into the treasurer’s office. The office must be forward-thinking in ensuring that we have the technology and personnel in place to confront this growth.

Kadir: While on the campaign trail I learned something extremely important; nobody knows the treasurer is an elected position. The single biggest challenge is to create the best way(s) to demystify what the treasurer does and why this office is important. As an accountant, I will take full responsibility on behalf of all financial services professionals to help WilCo be more financially informed, aware, and healthy.

What changes do you want to make if elected?

Heselmeyer: In my first 18 months in office, I have made significant changes in the way we address financial forecasting. I’ve implemented management and forecasting systems that have more than doubled the rate of return and earn more than $8 million in investment returns this fiscal year alone. We are now innovating and streamlining the way the county manages the deposit of funds paid to various county offices to make this process safer and more efficient.

Kadir: The most immediate and impactful change I will make to the treasurer’s office is to build working relationships with every WilCo agency and their employees. I want to hear the frustrations that our agencies have when dealing with their budgets, watching them vanish over time. Active listening is a skill set that I will practice every single day in office.

What distinguishes you from your opponent?

Heselmeyer: I have actually been doing the job and doing it well. Voters can look at the results that the treasurer’s office has produced under my leadership and at my long record of service and involvement in Williamson County. The county treasurer’s office is being run efficiently, effectively, and in a manner that is completely transparent to the taxpayers we serve.

Kadir: Experience. After graduating with a degree in business administration 2 months after the Great Recession, I learned very quickly how money works on Wall Street and simultaneously on Main Street. Beyond textbook knowledge, real world work experience, and a progressing career, I know what it takes for people to make healthy financially decisions and to ensure we are always prepared for a prosperous future.

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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