Treasurer candidates have new ideas for office

COLUMBUS (AP) — Two candidates for Ohio treasurer have very different ideas about how they would run the office.

Democrat Rob Richardson wants to take a more expanded and active role as treasurer, while Republican Robert Sprague takes a more traditional, but updated, view of the job, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Richardson, 39, is a securities litigation attorney from Cincinnati. Sprague, 45, is a four-term state representative from Findlay. Both are vying to succeed Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is term-limited.

Richardson said he would use the office to oppose state spending and investment in private prisons and in for-profit charter schools. He said he also would also push drug companies to pay more to fight the opioid crisis.

“I see this office and the role as treasurer as an ability to hold the powerful accountable and to make sure we are addressing the problems of this state that I think the legislature has failed,” he told the newspaper’s editorial board.

Sprague said he would promote and expand transparency while guarding the state’s investments, plus bring “smart and innovative” ideas to the office.

Sprague said he will guard the state’s investments while embracing transparency. He also says he’ll bring new ideas.

“In the treasurer’s office you’re in charge of the people’s checkbook,” he told Dispatch editors. “It’s important to be transparent, but it’s also important to be innovative and smart, and I think that every statewide officeholder in their respective positions needs to bring fresh bread to the table and new ideas to help deal with Ohio’s biggest problems.”

Sprague aims to spur more private investment in drug treatment, an issue he prioritized as a lawmaker.

He proposes creating “social impact bonds” to reimburse private investors for their initial costs if a treatment program proves successful. They also could be used to promote private investment in fighting other problems, including infant mortality, he said.

Richardson proposes to retain and expand Mandel’s signature online checkbook as well as using it to highlight tax dollars spent on for-profit entities such as prisons and charter schools.

He also wants to use it to shed more light on state pension funds, detailing investments and showing payments to private lawyers and investment managers.

Richardson also backs opportunity-fund zones to encourage private investment in depressed areas and expansion of low-interest student loans.