On Wednesday, September 17, Ken Simpler, the Republican candidate for State Treasurer, attended a campaign kick-off event at the Rookery North in Milford. The event was attended by state and local officials who wanted to meet Mr. Simpler and learn more about his views on the Treasurer’s Office. Mr. Simpler will face Sean Barney, the Democratic candidate, in November.
The event was coordinated by David Burton and welcoming remarks were given by Senator Gary Simpson.
“We wanted Milford to meet Ken and learn more about him,” Senator Simpson said. “He came to meet all of us personally 12 to 18 months ago and spoke plainly about his vision for the Treasurer’s Office in Delaware. He is not a typical politician. When he left my living room the first day he came to talk to me, I told my wife that he was the future of Delaware and that he could rebuild the pattern of trust in the Treasurer’s Office, something that has been missing over the past few years.”
Mr. Simpler grew up in Sussex County as he was born and raised in Rehoboth Beach. His family owned the Avenue Restaurant for many years and are well known in the area. Mr. Simpler graduated from St. Andrew’s School in Middletown and then earned an undergraduate degree in political economics from Princeton University. He continued his higher education, earning an M.B.A. with honors from the Graduate School at the University of Chicago, as well as a Juris Doctorate with honors at the university Law School. He is currently enrolled in the University of Delaware’s School of Public Policy & Administration, working toward an additional master’s in Public Administration.
Mr. Simpler began his career as a corporate attorney at Kirkland & Ellis, a national law firm, working primarily on private acquisitions and capital raising transactions. He then became the Managing Director at Citadel, LLC, a global investment fund where he oversaw a billion dollar portfolio and managed personnel in several different offices throughout the United States and around the globe, including London and Tokyo. He left Citadel to start a family business, Seaboard Hotels, where he is the Chief Financial Officer. The company manages hotel and retail properties in Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Nags Head, North Carolina. He is married to Liz, who he met when they were freshmen in college, and they have three children.
“I have been talking about this for the better part of 18 months and only after winning the primary did it become clear to me just how important this is for Delaware,” Mr. Simpler said. “I reflected on my opponent and why I am doing this, realizing that there is a stark contrast between the two of us.”
Mr. Simpler’s opponent, Sean Barney, is an Iraq War veteran, who joined the Marines after 9/11 and was injured in combat. Since leaving the military, Mr. Barney served as an aide to Senator Tom Carper. Recently, he served as policy director under Governor Jack Markell. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and studied law at Yale Law School. He also studied economics and public policy at Harvard, receiving a Masters in Public Administration from the university.
“My opponent, though I do not know him personally, seems to be an upstanding man, a veteran who has served his country admirably,” Mr. Simpler said. “But since leaving the military, he has worked his entire career in politics. Is that what the state needs in the Treasurer’s Office, or do they need someone who has managed a billion dollar portfolio, someone who has spent 20 years as a finance officer?”
Mr. Simpler pointed out that Delaware only elects nine state officials, and three of them head to Washington, leaving only six in the state. He said that none of those elected officials has a background in finance, other than State Auditor Tom Wagner.
“Mr. Wagner is a finance guy, but he looks backward at finance to be sure everything has been done properly,” Mr. Simpler said. “The Treasurer must look forward to be sure our finances are in order and that decisions are being made to move Delaware in the right direction. Right now, it doesn’t look as if anyone in that office is looking forward, but instead creating new policies and programs and that is not the answer.”