Candidate Q&A: State Treasurer Democratic Primary

August 12, 2018 GMT

Three Democrats, including a former Wisconsin state treasurer, are seeking their party’s nomination in Tuesday’s primary to run for the state treasurer seat in the Nov. 6 general election after Wisconsin voters defeated a Republican-led effort to eliminate the office this spring.

Sarah Godlewski

Age: 36

Address: 117 S. Hamilton St., Apt. 60, Madison

Job: Socially responsible investor

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Civil service

Education: Graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University with bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict resolution; certificate in public treasury management, National Institute of Public Finance and Pepperdine School of Management; national security fellow at the Air War College; attended the University of Virginia Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and the University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Program for Public Administration.


Website or email address:,

Cynthia Kaump

Age: 45

Address: 233 Standish Court, Madison

Job: Small business owner and financial professional

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Former director of communications and community outreach for the Office of the State Treasurer; active member of community and church

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism from UW-Madison

Website or email address:,

Dawn Marie Sass

Age: 58

Address: 356 Sugar Ave., Belleville

Job: Accounting specialist 3

Prior elected office: Wisconsin state treasurer from Jan. 3, 2007, to Jan. 3, 2011

Other public service: 36 years as a public employee

Education: Master of business administration; certificate in public finance from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and certificate in human resource management from UW-Madison.

Website or email address:,


Why is this race, and the office of the state treasurer, important?

Godlewski: Wisconsinites voted overwhelmingly in April against an amendment proposing to eliminate the state treasurer from our Constitution. This office has been underutilized for decades, and we now have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure this office works effectively for everyone. The treasurer serves as financial trustee for four funds worth over $1.2 billion, and has independent investment authority.


Kaump: It became clear with the referendum this spring that Wisconsinites are disturbed by the concentration of power in the offices of governor and attorney general and want an independently elected financial guardian for Wisconsin. This race is important because the next state treasurer will be tasked with not only administering but restoring and expanding the office.

Sass: Passionately served one term. Key issues 2010 re-election, value and importance of constitutional office to Wisconsin. Independent financial watchdog — stopping check drafts, questioning expenses, and bringing in auditors to ensure financial health of Wisconsin. Treasurer has stopped unclaimed property money being diverted to pay state debt, enabling trust funds to grow for Common School fund, which supports all public school libraries.

In what ways would you seek to make the office of the treasurer more relevant to state residents?

Godlewski: Our state treasurer is Wisconsin’s fiscal watchdog and chief financial advocate. With the right leadership, we have a platform to hold politicians and corporations accountable and stand up for the most vulnerable. State treasurers across the country are taking the lead in building 21st-century economies through innovative financial programs and investment strategies. It’s time for us to catch up.

Kaump: I would return many of the programs that have been removed from the office, particularly unclaimed property, and use the funds overseen by the state treasurer to generate interest to fund new programs, our public schools, and return money to the general fund to reduce tax obligations. I would also be a transparent and independent voice on Wisconsin’s financial health.

Sass: I will continue as in previous term. Travel to 72 counties each year of term with unclaimed property database. Previously, reached more people returning over $100 million dollars. Contests for school children raising awareness of Wisconsin 529 Plans. Seventy-five children won EdVest accounts to help them attend college. Monthly financial tips on website to help Wisconsinites protect against fraud and school visits to gain financial literacy.

What qualities do you bring that your opponents do not?

Godlewski: I led the coalition to save this office — thereby maintaining a critical check and balance on our government. I co-founded a socially responsible investment firm, and I’ve worked with the Department of Defense to save taxpayers tens of millions and improve programs. I led the development of a performance-based budget process that ensured accountability, and have worked in international microfinance.

Kaump: I worked in the Office of State Treasurer as a director from 2012 to 2015 and administered programs that set records and received national attention. I have been crafting plans for how to improve and restore this office for nearly a decade. I am also the only candidate with the financial and insurance licensing to properly oversee our state investments.

Sass: Experience. I am the only candidate that has served as the Wisconsin state treasurer. Education: MBA, certificate in public finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a certificate in human resource management leadership. I have been through two state budget cycles and RFP for 529 Plan investment firm. Passionate, hardworking and dedicated to serving Wisconsin.