The Providence Journal: ENDORSEMENT
Magaziner for treasurer
In a year when Rhode Islanders seem hungry for bright, energetic, honest leadership, Democrat Seth Magaziner stands out as a superb candidate for general treasurer. He clearly has a passion for both public service and moving the state forward economically.
We were inclined to be somewhat skeptical initially. Mr. Magaziner, 31, is the son of Ira Magaziner, a policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton. The young Magaziner attended Milton Academy, Brown University, and the Yale School of Management. Rhode Island has had more than its share of legacy politicians who have had their way in life smoothed by famous families but lack the intellect, leadership skills and real-world experience to be effective.
Mr. Magaziner seems quite different. He used his superb educational advantages to serve others, sometimes in surprising ways. He worked as an elementary school teacher in rural Opelousas, La., from 2006 to 2008, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He served on the boards of Crossroads Rhode Island, Common Cause Rhode Island and Serve Rhode Island, which administers AmeriCorps programs. He was active in the campaign for same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.
After Yale, he went to work for Trillium Asset Management, which manages more than $1 billion of assets. As a vice president of the firm, Mr. Magaziner oversaw more than $100 million in investments, helping produce strong returns.
He may seem, at first blush, to be less experienced than independent Ernest Almonte, a well-liked former auditor general for the General Assembly who sounded an alarm about dangerously underfunded local pensions. Mr. Magaziner seems well-informed, too, about the local pension problems afflicting the state, particularly Providence. He is a critic of former Mayor Vincent Cianci’s approval of 5- and 6-percent annual raises for hundreds of retirees and his devastating failure to adequately fund pensions.
But the biggest part of the treasurer’s job is handling investments and protecting the retirements of public employees (and the taxpayers who help fund them). Unlike Mr. Almonte, primarily an accountant, Mr. Magaziner is an investment professional. He brings to the job experience in that area, with goals to reduce investment fees and increase transparency. He understands that the state’s investments must be carefully managed to minimize risk and maximize returns. His Business Advisory Group is a virtual Who’s Who of leading financial experts in the state.
He also recognizes, as current General Treasurer Gina Raimondo does, that the office can be a springboard for change. He wants to move the state to provide support to small businesses and entrepreneurs, and push programs to upgrade Rhode Island’s infrastructure. He will work for a healthier civic culture as a strong opponent of public corruption and the good-old-boy network.
We believe this bright young leader will work well with the next governor to turn Rhode Island around. We urge voters to support Seth Magaziner for general treasurer on Nov. 4.