The discovery of oil and gas in eastern Ohio creates opportunities that could turn the area from poverty to boomtown overnight, U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Mandel tells Newsmax.
You have to look only to neighboring Pennsylvania or at North Dakota to see what a difference energy exploitation can make, Mandel said.
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In western Pennsylvania, Mandel said, “Five years ago, the lady who owns the mom and pop diner was about to go out of business — she now owns the whole block. The guy who owns the hardware store that was about to go out of business five years ago is now a millionaire.
“In North Dakota, they have just over 3 percent unemployment – they are paying McDonald’s workers 15 bucks an hour. They can’t build homes fast enough,” Mandel said in the exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV
And there is no reason why such prosperity shouldn’t come to Ohio, where the Marcellus and Utica shale formations are rich in oil and gas just waiting to be developed, said Mandel, who is vying for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat.
Mandel, 34, intends to challenge one-term liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown in November. He believes voters will react to his fresh-faced appearance and throw out Brown, who has been running for office “since Richard Nixon was president.”
Mandel said he has met politicians who want to be in Congress by the time they’re 40; some want to be governor by 50; others want to be in the Senate by 60.
“But I try to keep my goals relatively simple,” he said jokingly. “By the time I’m 35, I just hope to be shaving!”
Being more serious, he said his campaign has a slogan: “It ain’t about the age, it’s about the miles.” He contends that the miles he has put on as state treasurer, as a Marine reservist serving two tours in Iraq, and campaigning throughout the state easily match up to Brown’s decades of experience.
“He was just named the most liberal senator in America, and I can tell you when people look in the mirror they don’t see themselves and they don’t see the state of Ohio as the most liberal state in the union and we are looking forward to debating with him throughout the coming months.”
Mandel celebrates his first anniversary as state treasurer on Tuesday. Before that, he had served three years in the Ohio House, representing 17 communities around Cleveland. During his tenure, he said, Ohio received an AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s at the time the agency was downgrading U.S. creditworthiness. Fitch also gave the state its highest rating for bonds.
“We have a great story to tell in the Ohio Treasurer’s Office,” compared with “the mess that is Washington. We are doing it with fiscal discipline and we are doing it by cutting the budget in our office,” he said.
Among the practices he found when he took over in Columbus was that the treasurer’s office employed a man to drive $200 million worth of checks every month up the I-71 to be deposited in a Cleveland bank — by car rather than in an armored truck.
“The answer I got back from folks who had been there a long time was, ‘Well, that’s just how we have done it here.’ That, to me, is just not an acceptable answer.”
Now checks are deposited by computer as part of a slew of cost-cutting measures, some large and some small, that Mandel says he has initiated.. “We shut off unused phone lines, unused fax lines, renegotiated cell phone contracts, we stopped using a certain printer that was charging a bunch of money.
“On top of that I said, ‘You know what, I don’t think we need to pay someone to water our plants. We cut out a plant watering contract and said we can just walk around the office with a bucket.” He said he has managed to cut more than $1.2 million from his annual budget.
“We are leading by example. We are walking the walk. And if you took what we did in the state treasurer’s office in Columbus and applied the same commonsense leveraging of technology and fiscal discipline to Washington, we could save billions of dollars on behalf of the U.S. taxpayers.”
One of the key points of Mandel’s platform is freedom of choice in education. “I’m a product of public school,” he said. “I went k-12 through public school as did both my parents and my sister and I have relatives who work in public schools.
“School choice and competition in the marketplace makes public schools better, voucher schools and private schools better. It makes charter schools better, and it’s also a positive for families who choose to home school.”
When he first campaigned for the Ohio House, people slammed doors in his face because of his support for school choice, he said.
“Now, five years later, some of those same parents are sitting on the boards of charter schools in the state of Ohio, and we’ve had this great revolution in this state in education where citizens of all ages are realizing that school choice makes sense.
“It’s a bipartisan issue, it’s a nonpartisan issue, I can applaud some of the Democratic legislators, especially some of the African-American legislators in Ohio who have had open arms to school choice and people who are on the opposite side on this issue also happen to be on the wrong side of history.”
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