Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton was endorsed by former Gov. James Douglas, right, during the announcement of her campaign for state treasurer.
RUTLAND — Former, current and aspiring office holders sang Wendy Wilton’s praises as she formally announced her candidacy for state treasurer Monday.
About 60 people packed the aldermanic chambers of City Hall, including former governor — and former state treasurer — James Douglas.
“Somebody came up to me and said, ‘You’ll go anywhere for free coffee,’” Douglas quipped. “The truth is, I’ll go anywhere for Wendy Wilton.”
Douglas called the treasurer’s office, where he served for eight years, “essential to the future of our state,” and praised Wilton’s commitment to transparency.
“I can’t think of anyone better, based not only on her experience in Montpelier a few years ago, but also in the city of Rutland,” he said.
Mayor Christopher Louras said that Wilton had been reliable both for accurate, up-to-date budget numbers as well as bond schedule analysis and health care projections, information that was invaluable to local policy-makers.
“When Wendy Wilton and I were initially elected ... the decision was made the city would no longer operate at a deficit, that taxpayers and residents would see how every dollar of their money was spent,” he said.
Louras said Wilton had helped save city taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in the short term and that he believed reasonable projections would show the savings coming to millions in the long term.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock recalled looking at the city’s books in his then-capacity as state auditor in 2005, before Wilton took over the city treasurer’s office.
“Boy, it was rough,” he said. “We had financial statements that were replete with errors, that had material weaknesses that went on and on and on. ... Thank God we got a treasurer for the city of Rutland who straightened that out.”
Brock said the transformation of Rutland’s financial statements was like nothing the state had seen in a long time and gave Wilton full credit for the change.
“I can think of no one better, no one more qualified, no one with a track record like Wendy Wilton. ... We couldn’t do better.”
Citing “unsustainable increases in certain budget areas,” over reliance on federal money, and systemic deficits, Wilton herself said there were “gray clouds on our state’s horizon.” She pledged to maintain the independence of the office while improving transparency and accountability.
“(T)he state of Vermont recently received a D-minus from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, relating to state spending disclosure,” she said. “It is very difficult for the public and our lawmakers to access the state’s financial information in a form that is useful.”
Wilton said she believes she has a proven track record and can bring the same openness to the state’s finances that she did to the city’s.
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