Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are we ready for a comeback?

We all remember how it happened: after the disastrous 2012 season, the Red Sox assembled a team in 2013 that went from last in the league to first and became World Series Champions. With veterans, rookies and seven free agents from around the league, a team was built that not only competed, but won. Can they do it again in 2015 — or more importantly — can Governor Gina Raimondo launch a similarly epic comeback here in Rhode Island?

I had the opportunity to help out with Governor-elect Raimondo’s Transition and it was clear to me that her singular focus is expanding Rhode Island’s economy and growing jobs here in the Ocean State.  Launching Rhode Island’s comeback — and making sure that all Rhode Islanders are prepared to benefit from long term economic growth — is the central goal of her administration.  And just like a General Manager confidently making plans in January for a World Series win in December, Governor Raimondo has drawn top talent from inside and outside of Rhode Island and assembled a standout team that can deliver a comeback for our state.

In her cabinet Governor Raimondo has retained the best veteran talent in state government including Colonel Steven O’Donnell of the Rhode Island State Police, A.T. Wall at Corrections and Janet Coit at DEM. Governor Raimondo added “all-stars” from out of state like Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor who led successful economic development efforts for the City of Newark under then-Mayor (now U.S. Senator) Cory Booker as well as her new Chief of Staff, Stephen Neuman. Previously, Neuman has worked for three governors in three different states showing that he’s able to successfully adapt to different political cultures with ease. The Raimondo administration will have at least two leaders with impressive GOP credentials: the new Director of Administration, Michael DiBiase was chief of staff to Governor Lincoln Almond and Director of Management and Budget, Jonathan Womer, worked in the White House during Bush II.

Of course it takes more than just good players to make things happen. We need strong leadership and teamwork. That’s why some political observers have noted that Governor Raimondo and the leaders of the General Assembly have been meeting and talking through their respective priorities. This is significant because it’s been 20 years since a governor in Rhode Island has shared a party label — and a good working relationship — with the General Assembly. While I am no fan of one-party rule, the shared priority of bringing our economy back to life is not an ideological one and it is refreshing to see a collaborative spirit.

I don’t want to be too much of a “homer” — especially since Rhode Island’s problems are numerous and complex — but I think that this new team can get our state on the right track and headed for a comeback.

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