Ron Knecht: Thank you, Nevadans. Now, the work begins

Thank you, Nevadans, for electing me your next state Controller.

I’m humbled, honored and deeply moved by the trust you’ve extended and the big job ahead. And by a high vote total won with low campaign spending.

What does Nevada’s Chief Fiscal Officer do? He processes and records the state’s financial transactions; settles claims against the state; collects debts owed to it; conducts the final audit; ensures compliance with our constitution, federal laws and state statutes; and administers Nevada’s accounting system. The nuts and bolts of the job.

Also, gives folks accurate and impartial information needed to determine whether tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively — an essential function I’ll upgrade, starting with an online state checkbook that lets you see how your tax dollars are being spent.

During this campaign, I became known for a sense of humor, beginning by running as One Plain-speaking Nerd, which is what the job requires and I am.

In speeches, I’d ask: “Why would a successful professional with a lovely wife and daughter and the best mother-in-law in the world at home want to be Nevada Controller?”

“Well, it’s a bit personal, but I’ll tell you,” I’d say, drawing folks in. “Growing up as a young boy in a small town in the Midwest in the 1950s and attending high school there in the 1960s, … [pause and look wistful for effect] … I dreamed of being Nevada state Controller.” The joke usually evoked cheerful chuckles.

Then I’d answer seriously. For 125 years, we’ve seen the rise of the dysfunctional politics of Progressivism. As it has accelerated in the last five decades, we’ve had slowing economic growth and reductions in individual liberty, prosperity, opportunity and hope. Now, after a six-year blowout of it since the Great Recession, we’re mired in a long-term non-recovery it has caused.

So, today we stand at a crossroads. The choices we make are going to determine whether my daughter and all Nevada’s children are heir to the prosperity, opportunity and freedom of the America with which we were blessed. To answer this challenge, I’ve picked a niche I can fill in the battle to reclaim, restore and revitalize our country: using my skills in economics, finance, law, policy and engineering and in management and leadership as Controller.

Thus, I’m driven by understanding the big picture. But I also know solving our problems requires hard work on low-key day-to-day matters. The big challenge is replacing the IT system used for state financial transactions and other functions. With experience in overseeing roll-out of a similar and bigger IT system as a Regent, I’m well-positioned to work with other state agencies to re-engineer state business processes and thus lower our high staffing levels and costs. In so doing, we may be able to cover the costs of this essential new system.

Instead of waiting until I assume office Jan. 1, the job begins now by working with the current Controller for a smooth transition. By focusing on the nuts and bolts, as well as delivering you new information to make state government more transparent and accountable, I hope in the next few years to make you happy and proud you chose me.

Closing my speeches, I gave folks a choice: If you’re dissatisfied with the job I’ve done as the only limited-government conservative on the Board of Regents, elect me Controller to get me off that board; and if you’re satisfied, elect me Controller because there’s so much more I can and want to do for you. You did. Thank you, and now the work begins.

Ron Knecht is an economist and law school graduate recently elected Nevada Controller.


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