Florida’s CFO discusses entrance into political realm

The last time Alex Sink, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, spoke at USF, she was a private citizen, a banking veteran with a husband and two children.

Growing up, she never thought she would pursue public office.

Sink, who was president of Bank of America’s Florida branches, addressed Raymond Gross’ public policy course Monday evening in the Alumni Center as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and the highest-ranking Democrat in Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration.

Sink fielded questions from students about her transition to politics after retiring from business and her relationship with colleagues in Tallahassee.

While growing up on a farm in North Carolina, she never thought she’d enter politics. Her background became a resource after her successful 2006 campaign.

“I grew up in an environment where I saw the importance of giving back, and we were a very religious family and believed in using our talents in helping other people,” Sink said. “I never had any dream or thought of any kind of political career.”

When asked how she feels as a Democrat working mostly with Republicans, Sink said she feels she benefits from her relationships with her co-workers.

“Typically, (when you) get to know (politicians of another party) as individuals and what’s important to them, you can kind of get away from this partisan bickering,” Sink said.

Sink spoke warmly about Crist, who she said was ribbed by other Republicans recently for his claim to have Democratic friends and his acceptance of climate change.

“(Crist) is actually very open, very friendly, very warm-hearted,” Sink said. “Sometimes I hear the words out of his mouth … and I think, ‘He’s more liberal than I am.'”

The Chief Financial Officer – a position Florida voters approved in 1998 – monitors the use of all public funds, which totals more than

$70 billion per year. The job was previously split between the state treasurer and state comptroller.

Dan Catlin can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or oraclecatlin@gmail.com.