Editor’s note: We’ve sent out an email asking candidates in the major political races in November to share information about themselves, so our readers can get to know them a little better. We asked them:
A. Please tell us about yourself.
B. If elected, what are your main priorities and why?
We’ll be posting these answers over the next few weeks, in the hope that it will help you in your decision-making process on Tuesday, November 8th. Please come out and vote!
Meet the Candidates for New York State Comptroller
Thomas DiNapoli—DEM, PAM
A. As State Comptroller, I am known for my independence and consistent leadership.
I began my public service career at a young age, winning my first election as a trustee on the Mineola School Board. I was the first 18-year-old from New York State to hold public office. I later ran for New York State Assembly and represented Northwest Nassau County for 20 years. I have been a State Controller since 2007.
My record as state comptroller reflects an unwavering commitment to protecting the people’s money and holding government accountable to New Yorkers. I have fought waste, fraud and abuse in government spending and prosecuted public servants who abuse their office. Under my leadership during turbulent fiscal markets, the state pension fund has grown to record highs, from $154.5 billion when I became state comptroller to $272.1 billion. It is one of the best managed public pension funds in the country.
My office is known for its factual analysis of economic, political and fiscal issues. When COVID-19 hit New York State and New York City hard, I closely followed job losses, economic recovery, and pandemic relief programs. My audits have identified tens of billions of waste and savings for state agencies, public authorities, and local governments, while offering recommendations for operational improvements. My audits on quality of life issues, economic development, transportation projects, school operations, etc. raised public awareness of critical issues and identified operational efficiencies. My efforts to fight for a prudent public budget, state debt and the implementation of rainy day reserve reforms have received widespread praise.
B. I grew up in a middle-class union home and know the financial pressures families face with high inflation and high interest rates. As the manager of the state pension fund, I am fully aware of the enormous responsibility I have towards the people who depend on it for their retirement security. During my next term, I will continue to work with state law enforcement to identify and prosecute those who rob taxpayers. I will audit state agencies and local governments to help them eliminate waste and improve services and operations. I will review high cost programs to make sure they work as promised.
Paul Rodriguez—REP, CON
A. I come from a modest background, having been born to working class Puerto Rican parents in Queens, New York. A single mother raised me and we lived in New York, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Atlanta, Georgia. I made my way through school, got a degree in economics, and finally made a cold call to get a job on Wall Street. This began a career that spanned over 25 years at various top companies including Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch, UBS, BBVA and ANZ. I started my financial career as an equity research analyst, then moved into credit analysis and eventually became a global banker working with multinational corporations in the United States and abroad .
I had worked with companies and entities in various industries and geographies, often when financial markets were in trouble. More recently, I worked for the Archdiocese of New York as a development professional, raising funds to support the pastoral and charitable works of the Catholic Church.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Certificate in Global Political Studies from the University of Georgia. I also completed a fellowship in economics at Stanford University. I live in Brooklyn with my wife of 17 years (Rocio) and two of my three daughters, ages 11 (Natalia) and 15 (Ana Sofia). My oldest daughter, 27 years old (Gabriela), is married and lives in Puerto Rico. I am a cancer survivor who wants to empower fellow New Yorkers to achieve their dreams.
B. If elected, I will work to bring integrity back to the audit process and restore proper accountability to the state government by exposing corruption and abusive practices. It is imperative to remove politics from the management of state pension funds. Regardless of political party, I will stand up against corruption, pay-to-play politics, and wasteful spending that increases the annual budget, resulting in fewer services for New Yorkers. The controller must avoid activism and remain truly independent. Political ideology should not influence the management of pension schemes, and it is irresponsible to use the state pension as a political tool to finance pet projects or promote social agendas.