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- Mike Pieciak announcing his candidacy
Michael Pieciak, the former commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, announced Friday he is running for state treasurer.
The Winooski attorney, a Democrat, told friends and supporters of his plans in an email Friday morning, and then expounded on them at noon to a small crowd in front of the Vermont Supreme Court.
“I want to thank my friends and colleagues who have all gathered here today to stand with me as I make this important announcement that I will be running to be Vermont’s next state treasurer,” Pieciak said.
Pieciak expressed appreciation for his parents, partner Will Holder, and State Treasurer Beth Pearce, who endorsed Pieciak as her successor. Pearce announced two days ago she would not seek a seventh term following a cancer diagnosis in April.
She praised Pieciak for his knowledge of the banking and financial industries, his ability to listen and skills at consensus building.
“He is really a person with the background that you need to do this kind of job,” Pearce said.
She quipped that she was “glad he didn’t run against me.”
Pieciak, 38, was thought by some to be planning a run since he announced last month he would step down as the state’s top financial regulator. At the time he would only say he wanted to continue in public service.
In his remarks, Pieciak highlighted challenges facing the state, including climate change, the housing crisis, threats to reproductive rights, and attacks on the LBGTQ community, a group that he’s “proud to be a part of.”
While these challenges can be discouraging, he expressed optimism in the state’s future.
“With a collaborative approach that focuses on solving problems and helping people succeed, we have the resource that we need, the strength of spirit that’s required to confront any challenge that’s on our horizon,” he said.
Pieciak, who served on last summer’s pension task force, said he supported the resulting pension reform bill that became law this week over Gov. Phil Scott’s veto. During his time on the task force, he never advocated for Scott’s position that employees should have the choice to invest in 401k-style retirement plans, he said.
After a career in securities law, Pieciak entered the Department of Financial Regulation in 2014, when then-governor Peter Shumlin appointed him deputy commissioner of the securities division. Scott, who was elected in 2016, appointed him commissioner in 2017.
Pieciak ran a department of about 100 staffers tasked with regulating hundreds of banking and insurance companies doing business in the state. He is better known by the public for presenting COVID-19 data at pandemic press briefings.
He said he supports increased education in financial literacy and efforts to help marginalized communities become first-time home buyers, noting that home ownership is a key way wealth is passed from one generation to the next.
If elected, Pieciak said he would also take another look at climate activists’ demand that the state divest from fossil-fuel companies. The state pension system studied the issue several years ago, but Pearce has resisted the idea.
Correction, May 6, 2022: An earlier version of this story misspelled Will Holder's name.