JOHNSTOWN - City native Harry Wilson, who graduated at the head of his class from Johnstown High School and went on to success at Harvard and on Wall Street, has decided to seek the Republican nomination to run for New York state comptroller.
He made his intentions known this week, forming a campaign committee and launching a Web site, www.wilsonfornewyork.com.
In a message to The Leader-Herald on Friday, Wilson said as comptroller he would use his experience in finance and management to tackle New York's fiscal problems.
"Our state's tax burden is crushing middle and working class families, like my friends and family in Fulton County," he said. "We need to reduce that tax burden so we can attract businesses and jobs back to New York, especially upstate. And to do that, we need a comptroller who will be aggressive about attacking costs, fixing broken programs and serving as a watchdog for New York taxpayers. I think my business career has prepared me well for that role, and I look forward to making my case across the state."
Wilson said he hopes to be able to attend the Fulton County Republican Club's Lincoln Day Dinner, planned for Feb. 8 at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown.
After several years working in finance for prominent firms such as Goldman Sachs, Wilson recently served on President Obama's task force restructuring the U.S. auto industry.
His uncle, Peter Wilson of Johnstown, said several days ago he received a phone call from his brother - Harry Wilson's father - informing him of Harry Wilson's intent to run for the seat.
"I'm his godfather, so of course I'm proud," Peter Wilson said.
Fulton County Republican Committee Chairwoman Susan McNeil said she spoke to Harry Wilson and expressed her excitement about his run for comptroller.
"I told him I'm really excited for him," she said. "Just the idea of having a local person running is great."
McNeil said she thinks Wilson's unique experience in the auto industry crisis will make him especially qualified for the post, which is now held by Democrat Thomas DiNapoli. The state comptroller's role, among other things, is to audit agencies, including municipalities, schools and government organizations and to run the state's retirement system.
She said she will invite Wilson to attend local Republican Party events in the future.
"This is a local success story of a native whose done good for himself," she said. "We're just proud to have someone with his experience running."
In his biography, in a section called "Foundations for Success in Fulton County," Wilson mentions his background working at his family's business, the former Rainbow Restaurant in Johnstown, and how he went on to graduate from Harvard University and Harvard Business School.
Assistant City Editor Bill Ackerbauer contributed to this report.