Democrat Michael Fitzgerald aims for an 11th term as state treasurer


Courtesy of Iowa Press Debates YouTube channel

Democratic incumbent Michael Fitzgerald has served as Iowa’s state treasurer since 1983. He faces opposition from Republican incumbent Roby Smith.

Editor’s note: The Iowa State Daily attempted to reach out to Republican candidate Roby Smith  for an interview three times but received no response.

Democratic incumbent Michael Fitzgerald is running for reelection as Iowa’s State Treasurer, the role he has served since 1983, against former Republican State Sen. Roby Smith.

Fitzgerald was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1951. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Iowa in 1974. He then worked as a marketing analyst in Des Moines for eight years before being elected to the State Treasurer’s office in 1982.

Democratic incumbent Michael Fitzgerald is running for reelection against Republican incumbent Roby Smith. (Courtesy of the State Treasurer’s Office website)

Smith is a state Senator representing District 47. He runs a small business and worked as a banker for ten years before being elected to the state Senate, according to his website.

Fitzgerald is running on his “Triple A Plan,” a play on the auto service company. The A’s stand for approach, accomplishments and agenda. He added that his approach to state government is effective, and he would continue to implement it if re-elected.

The approach involves hiring a professional staff and focusing on efficiency.

“We do more with less,” Fitzgerald said, stressing the importance of fiscal responsibility.

After serving as treasurer for 40 years, a large part of Fitzgerald’s campaign is focused on his accomplishments. He is especially proud of the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, a program he started his first year in office.

The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt focuses on unclaimed property, which is any property or accounts that are being held by financial institutions or companies but are owed to someone else. For example, if a rental company never returned a renter their security deposit, it would become unclaimed property after one year.

After a year, the money is turned over to the state treasury. The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt helps Iowans find their unclaimed property and returns it to them.

According to the program’s website, the program has returned $331 million to over 624,000 Iowans.

Fitzgerald said the program continues to grow every year and is probably his biggest accomplishment.

Republican candidate Roby Smith is running against Democratic incumbent Michael Fitzgerald for Iowa state treasurer. (Courtesy of Roby Smith for Treasurer )

Fitzgerald is also responsible for starting the College Savings Iowa program. Iowans can open investment accounts that grow, and withdrawals for qualified educational expenses are tax-free.

“It’s working– people love it,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s helped them save to send their kids or their grandkids to college.”

According to Fitzgerald, over $4.5 billion have been withdrawn over the years by Iowans through the program.

If reelected, Fitzgerald said he has three main goals.

First, he wants to set up an auto-IRA program, which would provide a retirement plan for Iowans who do not have one. The program would take 3 percent out of people’s paychecks every two weeks rather than a lump sum at the end of the year.

“If you’re like most people, living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t have that money at the end of the year,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s worked in eight other states, and I know it would work in Iowa.”

Fitzgerald said the people he has heard the most praise about the plan from are Republican small business owners. Fitzgerald said the plan would cost the taxpayers and businesses nothing.

His second goal is to return matured federal savings bonds that are owed to Iowans.

His third goal is to improve his IAble plan which gives Iowans a savings account to help pay for disability-related expenses. Currently, Iowans must become disabled before the age of 26 to qualify for the program. Fitzgerald said he wants to raise the age to 45.