Arapahoe County Treasurer Doug Milliken has focused his re-election bid on a bar graph. It is at the top of his home page, and it is the first thing …
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Arapahoe County Treasurer Doug Milliken has focused his
re-election bid on a bar graph. It is at the top of his home page,
and it is the first thing Milliken hands to anyone he happens to
meet on the campaign trail.
The chart of red and blue bars compares the county’s investment
income during Milliken’s first term with that earned between 2002
and 2006 — the year Milliken, Arapahoe County’s first Democratic
treasurer, was narrowly elected.
“My knowledge of how to invest resulted in earnings, even though
interest rates went down during my term,” Milliken said. “I’ve
shown dramatic increases.”
The graph points to 2008 as the county’s most profitable year of
the last decade with slightly more than $16 million in investment
earnings. The best of the pre-Milliken “red years” was 2006 when
the treasurer’s office took in less than $6 million, according to
“A lot of Republicans say they’re going to vote for me because I
run this like a business,” Milliken said of the county’s bottom
line. “That’s what they value.”
The incumbent Democrat’s Republican opponent is the same
candidate he defeated by one percentage point in 2006. Milliken
will face Aurora City Councilmember Sue Sandstrom, a certified
“I’ve beaten her before,” Milliken said. “I don’t know how this
year is going to be, so I’m going to work extremely hard. The nice
thing now is I have the successes of my office. But I won’t take it
for granted. I’m going all out to win again, and I imagine she will
work harder too.”
Milliken’s win in 2006 came as a surprise to many in the once
Republican-safe county. The election year had been the first of two
recent disappointing cycles for the GOP in Arapahoe County and
In addition to Milliken’s win, 2006 marked the first time that
two Democrats would serve simultaneously on the county’s board of
commissioners. Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter also
sailed to easy victories in Arapahoe County.
Two years later was the first time since 1964 that a Democrat
won the presidency in Arapahoe County. By Election Day, the county
was boasting more registered Democrats than Republicans for the
first time ever.
But now, in light of President Obama’s declining political
fortunes and rising discontent in some populist factions, some are
predicting that November’s midterm elections will largely favor the
party out of power.
Sandstrom, criticized by some fellow Republicans for running an
understated campaign in 2006, has hinted that she may take the
gloves off for her upcoming rematch with Milliken, who has seen his
share of controversy.
The incumbent’s 2007 inauguration was dogged by reports of
financial problems, a personal bankruptcy in the early 1990s, and
an aborted foreclosure on what was then his Centennial home.
“The bankruptcy was from a business I started in my 20s that I
learned a great deal from,” Milliken said. “As far as the
foreclosure, I think people can understand that. There were times
when that was rare, and now it’s quite common.”
Milliken has since sold the house in question, which was not
foreclosed upon. He is now living in a house in Littleton owned by
In 2008, KMGH 7News aired a report alleging that Milliken had
rarely worked a full week and often did not come into the
treasurer’s office at all. Milliken has denied those claims.
“I saw the story as politically motivated,” he said. “This is
not a 9-to-5 job. There’s meetings at nights. During the crunch, I
was up at 5 a.m. to watch the global markets. I have worked very
hard consistently for this office. The success I have had is what
Milliken says he is most proud of a much-touted program that he
says has helped local businesses spur the economy while generating
an improved investment for the county.
The treasurer has used $18 million of county money to buy
certificates of deposit in seven Arapahoe County banks. The
deposits have been contingent upon the banks lending the money to
small and medium-sized businesses in the county.
Milliken says he is more qualified than Sandstrom to oversee
“She does not have the investment background. She has an
accounting background,” he said. “I have an enormous amount of more
knowledge and experience of being a treasurer, and she certainly
can’t criticize me on my performance.”
Prior to serving on the Aurora City Council, Sandstrom was on
the pension board for Aurora’s city employees. She has owned her
own small accounting firm for 19 years.
Milliken, 52, also has a background in city government. He was
elected Centennial’s first city treasurer in 2001. He resigned that
position in 2006 after winning his county-level race.
The certified public accountant is an Arapahoe County native who
comes from a family with a history in politics. His uncle, Carl
Milliken, was Colorado's secretary of state in the early 1900s. The
Republican ran unsuccessfully for governor.
Milliken's father, Gordon, was on the board of directors for
South Suburban Parks and Recreation for nearly 40 years. The
candidate's second-cousin was Michigan's governor during the
In 1984, Milliken was among the youngest vice presidents on Wall
Street. The former Prudential Securities executive says he managed
$5 billion in assets for 500 municipalities across the United
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