The Cleveland Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com Editorial Board

October 5, 2018

A politician named Robert will be the next Ohio treasurer; it’s up to the voters which Robert it will be. One is term-limited GOP state Rep. Robert Sprague of Findlay, a former city auditor and treasurer who’s represented his part of Northwest Ohio in Columbus since 2011. The other is lawyer Rob Richardson of Cincinnati, who served on the University of Cincinnati board of trustees from 2008 to 2016, becoming the board’s youngest chair in 2016, and who ran unsuccessfully for Cincinnati mayor in the Democratic primary last year.

Richardson, 39, sure-footed in debate and passionate about issues of equity and diversity in Ohio public life, clearly has a bright political future ahead of him. But the ideas he puts forth for what he would do as Ohio treasurer — including divesting the state from certain investments and using the job to advance his public policy goals, including ending Ohio’s use of private prisons — appear to infringe on what should be legislative prerogatives. They also risk conflicting with the treasurer’s No. 1 responsibility, making sure Ohio’s money is managed in a skillful, careful and transparent way.

Being state treasurer, albeit a partisan elected office, carries serious fiduciary responsibilities, including managing the state’s $21.5 billion in investments and keeping safe more than $200 billion in other assets, including holdings of the state’s five public pension funds.

Robert Sprague, 45. who has championed bipartisan approaches to the opioid epidemic, two years ago undertook a listening tour of the state with other legislators to gauge the breadth of the overdose crisis in Ohio. He appears to have the needed focus and cautious, thoughtful approach to this all-important side of the treasurer’s job. He also wants to implement needed innovations that include the possible issuance of social impact bonds, to attract private money to the fight against opioid addiction.

Both candidates say they’ll work to expand current Treasurer Josh Mandel’s successful initiatives, including his online checkbook to shine a light on government spending, and the recently established STABLE accounts, an investment vehicle for developmentally disabled individuals that’s already attracted 28,000 accounts — about half from Ohioans and half from outside the state, according to Sprague.

Robert Sprague is the superior candidate in this race. Voters should elect Robert Sprague the next treasurer of Ohio.