Former Florida State CFO Alex Sink (Pg 3 of 3)


GS: Do your children identify with the Asian side of their heritage?
AS: My 2 children have no identification [with that side]. They’ve been to the house, they know the story but not in the same way. Not in the way I did growing up in the house that Chang and Adelaide built. Even in the course of the campaign I ran into distant cousins and got emails from all over country. My father actually served in China after World War 2. He’s the one that brought a few Chinese memorabilia into our house.

GS: Tell us how you worked your way up to running the Florida Operations of NationsBank?
AS: After starting the Miami office in 1984 I accepted continuous promotions until 1993 when I became president of the statewide bank. During those years I had increasing geographic responsibility in the areas of commercial and consumer banking.

GS: What made you decide to leave the post to run for state CFO?
AS: I had retired from banking in 2000 and was serving on some company and nonprofit boards. I also helped by husband when he ran for governor in 2002. My husband’s run taught me how difficult a statewide race is… Florida is such a large state. I knew it would be tough, but we made friends all over the state. Then in 2005 some friends encouraged me to run for CFO. It was a new position in Florida, and I knew that my background in finance, business, knowledge of our state, and involvement in many varied issues like education and environment, this position was a place that I could really make a difference.

GS: What was the biggest challenge you faced in winning the state CFO job in 2006?
AS: I was the first statewide elected democrat in many years, so the challenge was to prove that a democrat could win!

GS: What about your candidacy allowed you to buck the tide against democrats in statewide offices in Florida?
AS: I ran on my business experience. The office of the CFO is very new, a combination of comptroller and treasurer. It’s not a partisan political type of office but about running the business of state. I had presided over the Bank of America for the entire state of Florida, I had business connections all over the state and have been an active democrat all my life. I was running against a republican who didn’t have the experience for the job. I was a fiscal conservative. And probably being a woman helped me. I won that by 6 points.

GS: What makes you a Democrat?
AS: I don’t think government has a place in my personal life. I also think that government exists to protect people and that’s not what I hear from the Republican party.

GS: What initiatives did you introduce to help Florida survive the financial meltdown?
AS: I didn’t have any influence or control over the budget per se. My responsibility was to keep an eagle eye on the checking and savings accounts and our fund balances. When the economy started turning, I began to see the revenues of the state beginning to decline and yet there was no move made to manage or control expenses. I forcefully demanded that the governor and legislature hold a legislative session midyear and readjust the budget so we would not be in an overspending situation. It was a very difficult situation during the crisis. We came out of it okay, so I’m proud of that. Even today Florida still maintains a AAA bond rating.

GS: What was the most difficult aspect of running for Governor?
AS: Over and over again, running against someone who would really say the most outrageous off-base untruths about me. Of course I had to defend myself and I did defend myself. But to run against someone who had such questionable character was very difficult.

GS: What was the worst thing he said about you?
AS: He blamed me for the decline of the value of the state pension fund. When the market fell apart the state pension fund, like any other, declined.

GS: What did you hope to accomplish as Florida governor?
AS: I would have focused on building a stronger, more diversified economy for our state and I would have operated state government more efficiently with more accountability and transparency.

GS: Did you receive much help from President Obama in your election?
AS: The President was very supportive of me and of our election efforts. I suppport the president, I agree with him on many of his initiatives. I disagree with him on some of the initiatives. I do believe the way he handled the stimulis was all right.

GS: What lessons did you take away from your run for Governor?
AS: I’m very pleased with the level of support we got. 2.5 million people voted for us in an environment where Democrats were losing by double digits. I got good support from many members of the Asian American community of the state. I’m proud of the support from so many in our diverse state. And I was honored and humbled by the support.

GS: Do you have any plans to run for office again?
AS: I don’t have anything specific in mind, but I’m at that stage of my life where I’ve learned never to say never. I remain in close contact with my supporters.

1 | 2 | 3