Two men who previously worked together as Cheshire County commissioners are now competing to serve the county once again as treasurer.
Joseph H. Cartwright, an Alstead Republican, served on the three-member Board of Commissioners from 2016-2018, while Charles F. “Chuck” Weed, a Keene Democrat, has held a seat on the board since 2014. Both candidates said they have enjoyed working with county staff and want to continue those relationships, particularly with the county’s finance department, in a two-year term as treasurer, which both of them are vying for in the Nov. 3 general election.
By law, the treasurer’s primary duty is managing the county’s money, including making decisions on how to invest it and what banks to keep it in. Terry Clark, the current county treasurer who is running unopposed for Weed’s seat on the Board of Commissioners, told The Sentinel in August that he works closely with Finance Director Sheryl Trombly, who runs the county’s day-to-day financial operations but lacks the authority under state law to take certain actions.
For instance, Clark said, the treasurer borrows money in the bond market when the county decides to finance something through debt. The treasurer does not actually decide how the county spends its money. Instead, the Board of Commissioners and the Cheshire County Delegation, a legislative body made up of the county’s two dozen state representatives, are responsible for setting budgets and making other fiscal policy decisions.
“The only thing the treasurer can do is follow the RSA and make sure that the county is handling the money according to state law,” Cartwright, 75, said in an interview Monday. “And I would make sure that’s being done.”
For Cartwright, who worked for 30 years as a captain for American Airlines and also served for 9½ years in the U.S. Air Force, the treasurer’s job would be a continuation of the work he did as a commissioner, he added.
“As a commissioner, I would always go through every receipt and expenditure and understand where it came from and what was happening, so that gave me a good idea of how the county was running,” he said. “I think I would do the same job as treasurer. I would keep track of where the money is going, what the expenditures are for, and just follow the RSA to the best of my ability. I feel quite confident I can do an outstanding job.”
Weed, a retired Keene State College political science professor who previously served 14 years in the N.H. House of Representatives, said he has worked with the other commissioners over the past six months to focus on maximizing the interest the county can earn on funds that it holds and would look to continue this process as treasurer.
“And the best way to do that, I figured, was to diversify with the local banks that we use, as well as to invest in the public funds. That’s authorized by the New Hampshire Constitution,” Weed, 77, said in an interview Monday. “So our funds are now well distributed, and they’re making as much interest as they can, which is a way to lower property taxes.”
This process has also led Weed to begin exploring steps Cheshire County would need to take to establish a public bank. Such an institution would be government-run, and any profits the bank made could be reinvested in county programs and services, Weed said.
“I think what it does, it enables you to put your funds towards public purposes rather than stockholder purposes,” Weed said of a public bank. “And I think that persons who work for the counties, their most important constituency is the people, not stockholders.”
Weed said he has only recently begun researching the possibility of such a bank for Cheshire County, which likely would require authorization from the state after a tedious legislative process.
“We’re talking about something that’s pretty far down the line, but I think it would be something for us to investigate, and I’m all for it,” he said.
Cartwright, who also serves on the Alstead Zoning Board of Adjustment and works part-time as a bus driver for Fall Mountain Regional High School, said he wouldn’t anticipate making any significant changes to the treasurer’s office.
“At this moment, I’ve got complete respect for the finance department, and Sheryl Trombly as the director,” he said. “They do an outstanding job, and unless I see something that they’re doing that’s counter to state law, I don’t see making any big changes.”