Thursday, March 07, 2013

Arizona Statesman of the Year: Doug Ducey

| March 5 2013     

Western Free Press is pleased to announce the inauguration of our annual award for Arizona Statesman of the Year for 2012. We give this award to someone whose contributions have had a profound and positive impact on the citizens and State of Arizona.

As with all such awards, choosing just one person is rarely easy. Improving the civic life of a state and its people is a collaborative effort of many, all of whom add a vital piece to the puzzle. And yet, in some years, there is someone who stands out and makes that decision a little easier. Luckily for us, 2012 was such a year.

Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey is, in every sense of the word, a statesman. Skilled. Experienced. Respected. Effective. Over the last year, Ducey has brought every one of these characteristics to bear, and Arizonans have been the happy beneficiaries. And so it is with no small pride—and gratitude—that Western Free Press salutes Doug Ducey with the first annual Arizona Statesman of the Year Award.

Doug Ducey is an American success story—his education and career in finance, marketing, and management all preparing him for his impressive record as CEO of Cold Stone Creamery. As the Arizona Food Industry Journal described it . . .

While Ducey presents a calm and agreeable demeanor, underneath is an aggressive and driven financial acumen that makes him a lion in the world of investments and accounting. He comes from the private sector, where he most famously built Cold Stone Creamery with a partner from a local start-up company to a national brand. By the time he sold it, Cold Stone Creamery had expanded to include 1,440 stores, with 800 more in the pipeline, in all 50 states—in only a decade.
Ducey’s performance as treasurer is no less impressive than his personal biography. Motivated by the same spirit of civic concern that animated the vibrant tea party movement, Ducey ran for state treasurer in 2009. He defeated well-connected career politicians in the primary and the general election, and immediately set to work to improve the fiscal health of Arizona.

When Ducey came into office, Arizona was the better part of a billion dollars in the red. After what Ducey describes as a “team sport . . . with a financially responsible legislature that will actually cut spending . . . a strong governor who will say no to harebrained ideas and . . . a conservative cash management plan from the state treasurers office,” Arizona enjoyed a 2.4 billion dollar swing to the positive. Bringing his leonine financial acumen to bear, Ducey is now helping to manage Arizona’s surplus, building cash reserves for the future fiscal health of the state.

But Ducey is not just a steady hand on the state’s financial tiller. Enter 2012 and Arizona’s Prop 204. During the heart of the fiscal crisis, Arizonans approved a temporary increase in the state sales tax to help get the state’s finances back on track. Eager to take advantage, special interests decided to try to make the increase permanent, via a ballot proposition with no accountability and no guarantees that any of the money raised would ever reach the classroom.

Early polls showed Prop 204 well ahead, with support as high as 62%. In spite of long odds, Ducey rose to the challenge. He marshaled support from citizens, business leaders, and local chambers. He raised $1.7 million in two months for the effort. He made his case in public forums, and he even convinced local papers to oppose the measure. In the end, his efforts proved successful—opponents of Prop 204 carried the day by an impressive margin of 36–64%.

This accomplishment earned Ducey the plaudit “Hero of 2012” from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. For his efforts to defeat Proposition 204, and for his tireless devotion to the well-being of the State Arizona, we are please to echo this accolade, and to name Ducey our Statesman of the Year for 2012.

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