With time winding down, friends and supporters of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo have been anxiously awaiting the return of the woman they know and respect... bright, hard working yet affable, brimming with ideas of things that need to be done if she is elected. “I mean who is this lady who sits quietly in the car, rides mutely on a bike with her kids?” they jokingly ask.
Well according Raimondo, we should see a return to the “Gina” that performed so heroically in making the pension reform program in Rhode Island a model for the rest of the country. The problem is that the people who vote in primaries are often quite different than the ones who vote in the general election... more conservative, more committed to the status quo and Raimondo undoubtedly is trying to craft the appropriate message.
So who’s the real Gina? Someone who by her own admission likes to think big and has proven when she does, she’s also capable of getting her ideas implemented. Cue the fluttering flags raised in support of her pension reform success. She of course modestly ignores the praise and shrugs “we really didn’t have much of a choice.”
You see another example of her big thinking when we ask about the I-195 project. “I’d tackle it like the way Mayor Bloomberg did in New York with Roosevelt Island. New York wants to diversify and not be so dependent on the financial industry. So they have leveraged some land they had on the island... like we have here in Providence... and put out a global RFP to build a huge new technical campus for the city. Teknion in Israel was one partner. And Cornell outbid Stanford and became the other. Huge private donations have been added as well. Why can’t we do something like that, on a smaller scale of course, but use RISD’s industrial design capabilities as one part of the partnership. And why not pitch Stanford? They still want to be on the East Coast. We’ve got Brown. We’re near Harvard. I’d be one of my first phone calls if I’m elected.”
Her business acumen is apparent in some of her other ideas. “Sure I’d be willing to up contributions to cities and towns. They need it. But I might not give it them unless they attained certain incentives consistent with what the state needs in terms of efficiency, regionalization and the like. It’s the way businesses do it. So should we.”
So over the next few weeks look for more of the Gina Raimondo that gathered so much national attention just a few years ago. Her detractors point to her cozy relations with Wall Street. Many of her supporters suggest it’s what we need more of.
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