Norm MacQueen: Fiscal Control and Management of County Finances
Norm MacQueen has served as our Chester County controller since 2014 and is one of the three incumbents running for a second term this fall. As controller, he serves as a member of the Chester County Prison Board, Chester County Salary Board, and Secretary of the Chester County Retirement Board.
MacQueen didn’t come to Chester County from afar. He has been a Chester County resident since 1986, where he settled in Eastown Township. He lived there for ten years, before moving to Willistown Township. He was born in Philadelphia and raised in Delaware County.
“I never went far,” MacQueen commented on his local roots.
Before becoming controller in 2014, he was involved in investment advice. After graduating from West Chester University, he spent four years at Vanguard. He then spent another four years at SEI Investments while he earned his MBA degree from Eastern University.
In 2000, he and a partner started an independent investment firm, Northeast Advisors, which grew to manage $300 million in assets. They advise families, union pensions and nonprofits.
“We had a good range of clients from individuals to institutions,” MacQueen said.
He sold his interest in the advisory firm in 2015. Looking back, MacQueen wanted to focus on the controller’s office and selling his interest in the firm allowed him to do that.
“I didn’t want to conflict my time,” MacQueen recalled.
Simply put, the county controller is in charge of the money going out of the county. His department handles the county payroll of 2600 employees, pension checks, auditing for the district offices and the accounting of the county.
“If all the dollars are spent wisely and without waste, that by definition keeps the taxes low,” MacQueen said.
The controller also makes sure that there is no financial fraud in the county. Under MacQueen’s leadership, the controller’s office has developed and launched an initiative that helps nonprofits in the county avoid becoming victims of fraud. They have been offering free seminars throughout the county.
MacQueen stated that these clinics will help community organizations avoid becoming a victim of fraud. This campaign to help nonprofits began in 2016.
Norm believes that as a public official, transparency is important. Especially in the Controller’s office because of how taxpayers need to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely.
“It is something that I often encourage,” MacQueen said. “It’s a rule to live by.”
Another principle he emphasizes in the Controller’s office is integrity. To him, integrity means that every decision he makes keeps the residents’ best interests at heart.
“It would be an eye-opener for you to see ways that the county spends money on behalf of the taxpayer,” MacQueen said. “This is where the attention to detail is important.”
MacQueen implements integrity in the controller’s office by employing a principle from the investment business. He believes in fiduciary duty, which is the idea that an investment advisor should make financial decisions based on the client’s best interests.
“I see my job as the controller having that same relationship,” MacQueen said. “Where the decisions I make in the Controller’s office need to be beneficial to the taxpayers and residents of Chester County.”
MacQueen sees a direct correlation between the investment business and public office, due to the idea of pure service. Like his investment clients, residents of Chester County expected the highest level of service at the lowest cost along with the highest level of integrity.
“The needs of the taxpayers and residents of Chester County are paramount,” MacQueen said. “It goes to everything from keeping the credit rating high to paying the pension checks on time.”
He also initiated an effort to revisit the fees that the money managers charge the county retirement plan. He renegotiated to get fees as low as possible. As result of this initiative, the county will save approximately $370,000 per year.
“The savings are going to add up,” MacQueen said.
Reelecting MacQueen for a second term as the controller will maintain financial stability and strength in Chester County. Under his leadership, Chester County has been able to keep its AAA rating amongst three credit agencies, which includes Standard & Poor’s.
“Honesty and integrity are the highest characteristic one can have in public service,” MacQueen said.
MacQueen has been involved in public service since he moved to Willistown. His interest in politics began by attending township supervisor meetings. He wanted to understand what the issues and challenges were in Willistown.
“That’s how I ended up getting so involved,” MacQueen said.
Prior to being elected County Controller, he has served as township supervisor, auditor, constable, planning commission and open space review board.
“Folks don’t get into local politics for the money,” MacQueen said. “You do it because you are passionate to serve. And you find a way to take what skill set you have and apply it.”
MacQueen stated that the race for the controller’s office is a critical election. He believes that the controller’s and the treasurer’s office go hand-in-hand as two key functions of county government.
The controller’s office has received recognition for its professionalism. MacQueen’s background has delivered for the job he is at now and will seek reelection for.
When choosing a county controller, it’s important to focus on the candidate with the integrity, education and proven experience to best serve the residents of Chester County. Norm MacQueen is that candidate who will continue to serve the best interests of the residents of our great county.
- Written by Brenden Curry