ARLENE VIOLET - Almonte says he has 'warrior spirit'

ARLENE VIOLET - Almonte says he has 'warrior spirit'

Let's say there was a candidate for Rhode Island state treasurer who has 30-plus years as a certified public accountant and was the first public servant to be elected chairman for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in its 125-year history. This candidate also had one of the highest security clearances in order to serve as the chairperson of the United States Department of Defense Audit Committee as an appointee of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Throw in for good measure his role as an appointee of the Comptroller General of the United States to the Government Standards Committee, his past chairman role of the R.I. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and his selection by the secretary of the Air Force to attend the National Security Forum at the Air War College.

Then there is that "other credential" where he fought to protect the Rhode Island taxpayers and root out fraud during his 15 years as Rhode Island auditor general. His initial appointment and re-appointments were made on a bi-partisan basis. Well, there is such a candidate - Democrat Ernie Almonte, a graduate of Bryant University and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government's Senior Executives in State and Local Government and Innovation in Governance programs.

That's only some of his credentials. During the course of our conversation is was patently obvious why Ernie Almonte is an accomplished public and private sector financial expert. Rather than rest on his past laurels, he is chock-filled with ideas as to how to run a credible treasurer's office. One example would be the creation of a team of financial experts to provide assistance to municipalities with their unique and individual financial situations.

"My team would not dictate a course of action. We would analyze the fiscal situation, make proposals on two-to-three scenarios and then outline the respective process to achieve the goal," Mr. Almonte said.

Similar to Treasurer Gina Raimondo, he would build on and develop a financial education system for all Rhode Islanders to help them take control of their finances. He spearheaded a successful national effort. "People are better employees when they're not distracted by the woeful state of their finances," he explained, as to why such financial literacy also pays dividends in the workplace.

Ernie Almonte sees his platform as a job creation tool. He wants to make the state a cultural mecca for job creation by insisting on ethics, accountability, and integrity.

"People don't have to pay to play," he said. "My office will assist people without regard to whom they know."

Asked about the job that Ms. Raimondo has done, he offered that while some might debate the approach, the fact is that she showed incredible courage on a pension problem that had to be fixed.

He had some criticism of his Democratic opponent, Frank Caprio, for ignoring the pension problem during his tenure as state treasurer. He also added that Mr. Caprio's campaign announcement that he would restore the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) doesn't make sense. "His math is wrong."

As to challenger Seth Magaziner, "He has a lot of experienced people around him running his campaign, but he is the least experienced."

Ernie Almonte says that he has a "warrior spirit," having had to overcome many obstacles. "Nobody will work harder if the people give me a chance."

It'll soon be up to you.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.