Publisher’s Note: We sent out an e-mail asking the candidates for 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 you were elected to office, what are your top priorities and why?
We will run these answers over the next few weeks, in hopes this will help in your decision-making process on Tuesday, November 8. Please get out and vote!
Meet the Candidates for New York State Comptroller
Thomas DiNapoli—DEM, WFP
A. As State Comptroller, I am known for my independence and steady leadership.
I began my career in public service at a young age, winning my first election as a trustee on the Mineola Board of Education. I was the first 18-year-old in New York State to hold public office. I later ran for the New York State Assembly and represented northwestern Nassau County for 20 years. I have served as State Comptroller since 2007.
My record as State Comptroller reflects an unwavering commitment to protect the people’s money and hold government accountable to New Yorkers. I have fought waste, fraud, and abuse in government spending and pursued officials who abuse their positions. Under my leadership during turbulent fiscal markets, the state pension fund has grown to record highs—from $154.5 billion when I first became State Comptroller to $272.1 billion. It is one of the best-managed public pension funds in the nation.
My office is known for its fact-driven analysis of economic, policy and fiscal issues. When COVID-19 hit the state and New York City hard, I closely tracked job loss, economic recovery, and pandemic relief programs. My audits have identified tens of billions in waste and cost 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, and more have raised public awareness of critical problems and identified operational efficiencies. My efforts to fight for prudent state budget, state debt and building rainy day reserve reforms have received widespread praise.
B. I grew up in a middle class, union household and I know the financial pressures families are facing with high inflation and interest rates. As I manage the state pension fund, I am keenly aware of the enormous responsibility I have to the people who are relying on it for their retirement security. In my next term, I will continue to work with law enforcement around the state to identify and prosecute those who steal from taxpayers. I will audit state agencies and local governments to help them eliminate waste and improve services and operations. I will look at high dollar programs to make sure they are working as promised.
Paul Rodriguez—REP, CON
A. I come from a humble 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 City, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Atlanta, Georgia. I worked my way through school, earning an economics degree and eventually cold-calling my way to a job on Wall Street. That began a career that lasted more than 25 years at various leading firms, including Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch, UBS, BBVA and ANZ. I started my financial career as an equity research analyst, later transitioning to credit analysis and eventually becoming a global banker working with multinational corporations in the United States and internationally.
I had worked with companies and entities in various industries and geographic regions, often when financial markets were in distress. 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 Policy Studies at 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, aged 11 (Natalia) and 15 (Ana Sofia). My oldest daughter, aged 27 (Gabriela), is married and lives in Puerto Rico. I am a cancer survivor who wants to empower fellow New Yorkers to fulfill their dreams.
B. If elected, I will work to bring integrity back to the auditing process and restore proper accountability to the state government by exposing corruption and abusive practices. Taking politics out of the state’s pension fund management is imperative. Regardless of the political party, I will stand up against corruption, pay-to-play politics, and wasteful spending that increases the annual budget, leading to fewer services for New Yorkers. The Comptroller must avoid activism and remain genuinely independent. Political ideology should not influence pension plan management, and it is irresponsible to use the state’s pension as a political tool to fund pet projects or promote social agendas.