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Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler balances life, work, play

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Articles - June 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013


0613 FOB TedWheeler
State Treasurer Ted Wheeler in front of the Oregon capitol building in Salem
// Photo by Adam Wickham

Ted Wheeler, 50, became Oregon state treasurer in 2010, when the state budget was still reeling from the economic downturn. A sixth-generation Oregonian, Wheeler worked in financial services before entering politics. He has an MBA from Columbia University and a Master’s in public policy from Harvard. The Democrat is known for improving the state’s credit rating, spearheading the Oregon Investment Act and working to save funding for mental health, drug and alcohol treatment programs. Wheeler is a member of the Oregon Investment Council, the group responsible for investing nearly $80 billion Oregon funds, including PERS. Despite his busy political career, Wheeler remains a committed family man. He lives in Portland with his wife, Katrina, and their 6-year-old daughter.


“I’ve been to Mount Everest three times. In 2002 I summitted on the south side. The next year I got kind of cocky, stupid, and wanted to go the less popular route. We got to 28,200 feet before we had to turn around. Three things happened since climbing Mount Everest that changed my life: I got married, I had a child, and I took on the responsibilities of my job. Now the mountains I climb are mountains of paperwork!”


“On weekends my wife, daughter and I do a lot of kid-related activities. We go on bike rides, because my daughter recently learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. Weekends are family time, but we don’t do anything extravagant. I’m a little sore right now from kneeling all weekend with my daughter playing Legos. It’s great to see girls taking an interest in building things, so I try to encourage that.”


“Last summer I ran four triathlons. This summer I plan to run four as well. I get up at 4:45 each morning and hit the gym to swim or run. I plan to do a half Ironman in Napa. We’re going as a family, so that will be really fun. But my worry is: What if I do too much wine tasting down there? What if I’m on my bike and see a winery I really want to pull over to stop at?”


“I really love having a daughter. I grew up in a family of four boys, so it’s just completely different to have a girl. At her bedtime, I read two to three books every night. That’s our sacred time. She’s learning to read — I couldn’t do that at her age — so we’re returning to some earlier books that she can read, like 10 Apples Up on Top. I just read her Charlotte’s Web, and she would read every fifth or sixth word.”


“It’s important to me that I have a life that goes beyond my job as state treasurer. I like supporting causes that are important to me, such as helping organizations that provide support for vulnerable populations. I spent many years as a volunteer overnight shelter host at a shelter in Goose Hollow. It’s important not to lose track of who I was before I was Ted Wheeler the politician. I have more to offer the community than that.”


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