11/13/2009 - State Treasurer candidate, Jeremy Sherer, visits campus
By Michael J. Brooks
Jeremy Sherer, a candidate for Alabama State Treasurer, made his first visit to Judson College's Hockey Day on Nov. 7 at the request of his wife, Christy, an '03 graduate of the college.
Sherer, who is associated with the Birmingham law firm of Whatley, Drake and Kallas, met and married Christy Ross during his campaign for the Alabama legislature in 2006.
"I met Christy through Dr. Carol Ann Vaughn, a former Judson professor who now teaches at Samford," Sherer said. "We attended meetings promoting a new Alabama constitution so I was happy to meet Christy through this shared interest."
Sherer graduated from the University of Alabama in 2001 as a political science and history major, and then completed his law degree in 2004. He worked as district policy advisor and communications director for Seventh District Rep. Arthur Davis before leaving this post to seek elective office himself. He now lives in Oneonta.
"My district (34) gave John McCain his highest margin last year, so it wasn't favorable territory for a Democrat," Sherer said.
Nevertheless, he is one of two declared candidates for treasurer subject to the Democratic primary on June 2. Former treasurer George Wallace Jr. has declared on the Republican side.
Sherer said that the office of treasurer is normally a "fairly obscure election," but not this year.
"The defining issue is the handling of the Alabama Prepaid College Tuition program," he said. ""PACT has elevated the race considerably. This is what's on the minds of parents and grandparents in the state who've trusted the program to fulfill its pledge."
The central controversy, Sherer said is whether the state has an obligation to pay. He believes so, noting that the early contracts stated they were guaranteed by the state and after 1995, the contracts read, "will pay."
"Forty five thousand contracts now exist through this program, and they must be honored," he said.
Interestingly, Sherer's Republican opponent, Wallace, was treasurer when the program was created.
"I believe PACT was set up like Ponzi scheme," Sherer said. "It must continually beat the stock market year by year to combat rising tuition or either have a rising base of investors. There were 12,000 enrolled in 1991 and 10,000 the next year, so we're in an upside down pyramid. PACT hasn't been fully funded since 2001."
Sherer has participated in several "Save Alabama PACT" meetings around the state, and has proposed two solutions. He believes the investment mix has to be improved, but also that assets of the unclaimed property division can be used to secure the current debt.
"The treasurer's office oversees the unclaimed property division," he said. "There's no special interest connection to this property, and we could safely use $200 million over several yeas to give rebound to PACT funding. This is the most efficient solution right now."
Sherer said it would take legislative action to do this, and such a course was proposed in the legislature earlier this year.
The current $60 million annual expenditure will decrease over years, and is at its apex now, he said.
"Pact is funded to about 60% level through 2016," he said. "But we have current obligations until 2032. Dealing with this issue is the major one in this race."
Sherer said official qualifying for the primary begins in February and ends April 2. The primary will be June 1 and the general election will be Nov. 2.
Sherer has visited about 20 counties so far and participated in 15 or 20 events with his current opponents.
His website is www.Shererin2010.com.