PROVIDENCE — Republican James L. Lathrop will formally kick off his campaign for state treasurer on Tuesday.
Lathrop works as finance director for the town of North Kingstown, and he has been the finance director for Hopkinton, Westerly, and New London, Conn. He also worked as deputy town administrator for Portsmouth and town manager for New Shoreham (Block Island).
So far, the only other candidate in the treasurer’s race is former Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa, a Democrat who announced in December that he is seeking the seat that term-limited General Treasurer Seth Magaziner will vacate at year’s end.
Former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, who is a Republican, had been gearing up to run for treasurer, but he and Magaziner, who is a Democrat, jumped into the 2nd Congressional District race after US Representative James R. Langevin announced he would step down at the end of this year.
Rhode Island has not had a Republican state treasurer since Nancy Mayer served from 1993 to 1998. But in an interview Monday, Lathrop said, “I think there is a turn. I’m a Republican, but I have a heart. I think I can relate to people.”
He argued that he has the experience and technical skill needed for the job, which involves overseeing the state pension system worth more than $10 billion.
“The office has become a political holding ground for people who want to run for other offices,” Lathrop said. “Just because someone is a nice person doesn’t mean they have the technical skill required or the accomplishments and the experience.”
While Diossa talks about how Central Falls emerged from bankruptcy, Lathrop said Central Falls has an annual budget of about $19 million, that is roughly equivalent to the monthly budget he manages in North Kingstown. Also, he said, “Central Falls is still not in my mind. They had to have a receiver. The schools are still not under their own control. It’s just taped up and back in the water, floating until the next disaster.”
Diossa issued a statement in response to news of Lathrop’s campaign, saying, “Donald Trump’s Republican Party has become too extreme, both nationally and here in Rhode Island. That is why we cannot allow the Republican Party to take hold of the general treasurer’s office. Our next general treasurer needs to build on the work of the current administration, not tear it down. I will work every day to ensure our shared Democratic values continue to be expressed through this office.”
Lathrop, 58, of Wakefield, ran for South Kingstown Town Council in 2020, finishing eighth out of 10 candidates in a race where the top five candidates win seats. He has no money in his campaign account. He said he has just begun fund-raising.
Lathrop enlisted in the US Army Reserves after high school and served while attending Bryant University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He earned a certified public accountant designation and started own his firm. And he has been involved in several business enterprises, including his family’s trash hauling business, self-storage facilities, movie theaters, and commercial and real estate development.
He received a master’s degree in public administration from New York University’s Wagner School for Public Service. He has also completed the Gettysburg Leadership Program, Bryant University’s Hassenfeld Institute’s Leadership Program, and Public Finance Management’s program on debt issuance.
Lathrop plans to kick off his campaign at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kinney Bungalow at Sunset Farm in Narragansett.