Politics & Government

Politics needs more women, state treasurer says

State Treasurer Allison Ball speaks to a WKU class.
State Treasurer Allison Ball speaks to a WKU class. The Daily News (KPNS)

As a young woman interested in policy and government, state Treasurer Allison Ball didn’t think she could win a state office until someone else encouraged her.

For Ball, who spoke to Western Kentucky University students Wednesday during a Women in Politics course, it’s an unfortunate reality for many women interested in politics.

“For women, often they self-disqualify,” she said, encouraging young people, and especially young women, to run for office. “You can really do this. … We just need people with the right convictions.”

Growing up in Prestonsburg, Ball went on to become an attorney practicing bankruptcy law. At 36, she’s the youngest statewide female elected official in the country, according to the Kentucky State Treasury’s website.

As treasurer, Ball said she acts as the state’s chief financial officer, as the state’s point person for the Internal Revenue Service who protects the state from paying hefty fines and a watchdog against improper use of public money.

Ask her about one of the most interesting parts of her job, and she ranks running Kentucky’s Unclaimed Property Division near the top of her list.

“It’s basically a statewide lost and found,” she said, adding the goal is to return lost property to its rightful owners. Whether it’s returning $1.2 million in stocks a woman lost track of or a misplaced will that left a family’s inheritance to an unknown mistress, Ball said there’s always something interesting to find.

“There’s all sorts of amazing things that people have lost,” she said.

Ball said she also tries to enhance people’s lives as well.

“One of the things that was really important to me is that we have more transparency in government,” she said, adding that she’s also working to improve financial literacy education in the state.

For Ball, college is about challenging yourself and testing who you are. She encouraged students to test their beliefs by attending campus events that show both sides or opinions they disagree with.

Responding to a question about the expectations she’s encountered as a woman in government, Ball said there’s still progress to be made for women.

“It’s still tough to be a woman in areas that are mostly male dominated,” she said, adding she’s struggled with getting people to notice her values instead of her clothing. For advice, she encourages women to always focus on their values and qualifications.

“That’s the way you combat that,” she said.

Erin Woggon, a sophomore from Louisville, said she appreciated what Ball had to say, even though she differs from her politically.

“I was very impressed by the bipartisanship that I got from her,” she said, identifying herself as a Democrat. “I really appreciated that.”