FRANKFORT — One wants to abolish the state office he is trying to win. Another started her own business at age 9. Four have state legislative experience, and two are Louisville businessmen.
Eight people — three Republicans and five Democrats — are running for the office of state treasurer.
The party nominees for November's general election will be selected in Tuesday's primary elections. The current state treasurer, Democrat Todd Hollenbach of Louisville, could not seek re-election because of term limits.
The three Republicans are Prestonsburg attorney Allison Ball, state Rep. Kenneth Churchill Imes of Murray and former Fayette County-Judge Executive Jon Larson.
Ball, a bankruptcy lawyer who focuses on consumer rights and commercial litigation, got immersed in the world of finances at the ripe old age of 9.
She said her parents stopped her $5 a week allowance and told her she would have to earn what "extra stuff" she might want.
Ball came up with the idea of putting positive messages like "I'm a winner" and "I can do it" on pencils. She sold them for 25 cents each.
The young entrepreneur named her business Positive Pencils International and started making about $200 a week. She bought a horse when she was 11 and kept the business running until she went to college.
Ball, who said her family ancestry in Eastern Kentucky goes back to the 1790s, pledges to bring that type of diligence to the post of state treasurer to give taxpayers an office that is efficient, effective and transparent.
"As a bankruptcy lawyer, my job is to help people get their financial houses in order. As Kentucky state treasurer, I will work to get Kentucky's financial house in order," she said.
Ball's latest campaign finance report showed she had taken in about $43,000 and had about $31,000 on hand.
Imes, a licensed funeral director and farmer who serves in the state House, said most Kentuckians don't know much about the office of state treasurer, but he considers it "one of the most important offices in state government."
The office, said Imes, has "a watchdog capacity to it" that should be emphasized by whoever occupies it.
As treasurer, he said, he would participate in investment decisions of state funds, fight to protect pension resources, invest lottery proceeds wisely, promote financial literacy and be "the people's watchdog" of public spending.
"I have invested in Kentucky all my life. Now I want to invest for Kentucky and our future," he said.
For the race, Imes' campaign has raised about $47,300 and spent about $8,750.
Larson, a lawyer, is campaigning on the pledge to abolish the office.
Kentuckians deserve smaller, more efficient government, and functions of the state treasurer's office should be managed by the state Finance and Administration Cabinet, he said.
Abolishing the office, he said, would save taxpayers about $5.5 million every election cycle.
The idea has been kicking around for several years.
In 2007, Republican candidate Melinda Wheeler pushed to do away with the office, but she lost to Hollenbach. The Republican-controlled state Senate last year approved a constitutional amendment to abolish the office, but the Democratic-led House did not.
Asked if he would accept the office's salary if elected, Larson said, "As long as I have to work, I will accept the salary, but I'm not opposed to the legislature's downsizing the salary."
Larson's campaign finance report showed $6,450 in receipts. He had spent about $431.
"I might not have the most money, but I'm getting more recognition than the other candidates," he said.
The five Democratic candidates are Louisville businessmen Neville Blakemore and Daniel Grossberg, state Reps. Jim Glenn of Owens boro and Rick Nelson of Middlesboro, and former state Rep. Richard Henderson of Mount Sterling.
Blakemore said his management of a manufacturing company has prepared him to hold the office.
"My vision for the state office is really good solid management," he said. "I have spent 20 years in the private sector and 10 years building a company."
He said he would not be outworked, noting that he had made more than 1,000 phone calls to individuals to raise his hefty campaign war chest.
Records show he has raised about $340,000. About $60,000 of that has come from his own pocketbook.
"I have studied this office intensely and believe I can manage it quite well," he said. "We need the perspective of someone who has run a small business in this important position charged with balancing the state's checkbook."
Glenn, a state representative and economics professor, said his campaign pledge was to create opportunities and save money.
"I'm a businessman with a record for efficiency," he said. "The state treasurer's office should manage the state's money well and promote financial literacy."
Glenn said he could help people gain "the knowledge, skills and habits to successfully manage their money."
As treasurer, Glenn said, he also would fight to cap payday lending loans.
For the race, Glenn has raised about $70,000 and spent about $12,000.
Grossberg, a residential Realtor, said he would like to see more accountability and transparency in the state treasurer's office.
He advocates for consolidating the state Department of Revenue into the treasurer's office "so that we have only one state agency responsible for collecting taxes."
He also wants to implement the same fraud detection software used by banks and credit card companies to catch irregularities in the thousands of checks the state writes every year and provide information online about the state's accounts "so that anyone can see our current account balance and recent transactions in real time."
Grossberg's campaign has raised $22,311 and spent $13,085.
Henderson, a state representative from 2007 to 2014 and former mayor of Jeffersonville in Montgomery County, said he knows government and how to manage it.
"That gives me an advantage in this race," he said. "My message is simple: I ran a town with a $2 million budget and I understand the dynamics of government finances."
Henderson calls himself "the blue collar candidate" in the race.
Like most of the other candidates, he said he would be a watchdog and promote financial literacy.
He also said he would lobby to establish a program to create a state homeless veteran database and a statewide homeless outreach program.
"I may be short on campaign funds, but I make up for it by hard work on the ground," Henderson said.
The latest campaign finance reports showed Henderson with contributions of $9,635 and disbursements of $4,166.
Nelson, a state representative since 2001, said the treasurer's office remained relevant to Kentuckians.
"The office has a budget of about $3 million, but it generates about $45 million a year in handling unclaimed property," he said. "It more than pays for itself."
Nelson said he would make sure the office "vigorously" checked on state spending and provided transparency about it.
As a retired teacher, Nelson said, he would be a knowledgeable member of the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System's board of directors.
"The state has a tremendous problem with that pension fund, and I could bring a lot of expertise to it," he said.
Nelson's campaign showed $4,100 in contributions in its latest finance reports and a balance of $681.