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,,,11:M. Wt 2-1 Nikki Van Hightower The Competent Candidate Nikki Van Hightower was born in Billings, Montana, on August 14, 1939. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Houston and her Ph.D. from New York 1974. A former assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston, she served as Houston’s women’s advocate from 1976 until 1978. She was appointed to the post by then-Mayor Fred Hofheinz, and went on to serve as the executive director of the Houston Area Women’s Center from 1979 to 1987. She was elected Harris County treasurer in 1986. Hightower was interviewed by Observer Editor Louis Dubose and Associate Editor Allan Freedman in Austin on January 24. The editors were accompanied by Austin photographer Vic Hinterlang. An interview with treasurer candidate Armando Gutierrez will appear in the next issue. This is a very low profile race. Oh yes. What are the issues here? This is a nuts-and-bolts office. It’s extremely important. The revenues in the next fiscal year are going to be about $28 billion. That money flows through the treasurer’s office. The treasurer is responsible for taking care of it. There’s probably about $180 billion in transactions that take place in the treasurer’s office. But in terms of stirring passions it just doesn’t…. What I’m promising is a good-government office, one that provides the maximum security for public funds and that generates the maximum nontax revenues. Is there a political role for the state treasurer to play? Do you see a political role for your office? Very much so. I think the state treasurer is in a key position to be speaking out on the funding of issues that are going to be the most vital for the state of Texas in the next decade to come. I’ve always been a very vocal person, have been in Harris County, taking stands on the fiscal affairs of Harris County and I would continue to do so at the state office. . .. [A state treasurer] can either be out there on the forefront trying to generate decent funding for our schools, the environment . . . or they can just pull the rug out from underneath 10 FEBRUARY 23, 1990 Nikki Van Hightower our political leaders when they get up and start . . . saying “we don’t have the funds for this. We can’t tax our people anymore.” In terms of the political role, it’s a key political role, educating the public, keeping them informed. But it’s not a policy-making role. Are there issues you feel you’re going to have some influence on? VIC HINTERLAND Absolutely, I think that the estimates I hear on what the cost of fair funding will be, responsible funding for the schools is anywhere from a billion dollars a year for the next five years on up to $20 billion for the next five years. We’re going to have to make some hard decisions on where that money is going to come from, how we’re going to restructure our tax system in this state. And I