Lots of local politicians have gotten their cars repaired over the years at Eddie Bellinger’s auto repair shop just north of Fulton — and gotten an earful from the owner about some issue.Â But Harry Wilson on Thursday became the first candidate for statewide office ever to tour Bellinger’s shop.
Wilson wants to be the next Comptroller of New York State. The Comptroller is a watchdog on state spending and conducts audits of state and local government spending and operations. Wilson’s local guide said Wilson wanted to visit a place where average folks were working. The Republican from Westchester County found it in Bellinger’s busy repair shop and picked up the owner’s endorsement. “The guy’s got a lot of common sense,” said Bellinger.
Wilson touts his background as a child of working parents in Johnstown. Dad was a bartender; Mom worked in a textile plant. He became a hedge fund manager for a major firm and served on President Obama’s committee that oversaw the overhaul of GM and Chrysler.
Now, he’d like to overhaul the Comptroller’s office.
“The Comptroller has the power to audit every penny of state spending,” he said. “To go after large programs and see what’s working and what isn’t.”
In private industry, Wilson said he had to look at companies his company had invested in and make hard choices about what was working. “I invested in companies that were broken and I fixed them,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve had anyone in that office who has that capability in a long time.”
Wilson said the Comptroller’s office needs to be a check and balance on the Governor and the Legislature. He doesn’t think that’s happening now. The current Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, is a Democrat. Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s office.
He’d like to see the office’s powers expanded, “to go after pockets of excess spending,” and to end what he said is a “culture of spending” in Albany.