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Ohio Treasurer: Can Mandel overcome past mistakes?

October 30th, 2014

 

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Josh Mandel

Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s political career has consisted of a lot of ups and downs. He is in the midst of another election for Ohio treasurer and, while he has experience on his side, he needs to do a lot to prove that past mistakes will stay in the past, and that his reputation and skills make him the candidate to vote for.

 

When he began his career in 2003 as a City Council member in Lyndhurst, he won the affection of citizens by proposing and getting passed a tax rebate, which returned $1.2 million to the people of Lyndhurst. This move proved to be a good one for the people of Lyndhurst, but some other council members were not as pleased.

 

Pat Ward, who worked with Mandel on the council, said in an interview that when Mandel proposed this idea, Ward had to “take a long, deep breath and really try and stay calm,” Ward recalled. “I knew it was a bad idea from the beginning but Josh had made up his mind and he was going for it.”

 

Mandel’s campaign office was contacted several times for an interview, but his assistant, Rebecca Wasserstein, was never able to find a time that worked.

 

Mandel was born and raised in nearby Beachwood, and then left for Ohio State University, where he received his undergraduate degree in communications. He then attended Case Western Reserve, where he studied law and received his degree. Mandel then spent the next eight years serving his country in the Marine Corps. During his eight years overseas, he was still a councilman for the city of Lyndhurst, but his commitment to his country affected his attendance at meetings, which left a sour taste in the mouths of some of the citizens.

 

After serving three yeas on the City Council, Mandel was elected to represent the state of Ohio in the House of Representatives. The campaign trail to the house was not an easy one for Mandel, as Ward explains.  “He would walk from door to door holding three pairs of old shoes to show that he was dedicated to his work and the people. Josh really wanted the people to know that he was on their team and that he was here to help them,” Ward explained.

 

After he served as a state representative, Mandel announced that he would be running for state treasurer for Ohio. He ran against Kevin Boyce, an African-American. During the campaigning, the Mandel campaign stirred up controversy by running an ad that suggested Boyce was a Muslim. This was viewed as anti-Muslim bias, and the ad was ultimately removed by the Mandel campaign. Mandel was elected as the state treasurer in 2010, and then in 2012, he was nominated as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.

 

Mandel’s 2012 Senate campaign against Democrat Sherrod Brown met with more controversies. Mandel’s former financial director, Ben Suarez, was accused of illegally funneling money to Mandel’s Senate campaign. Suarez was acquitted on all charges but one, but the effect of that scandal will forever follow Mandel.

 

During the time of the Suarez scandal, Mandel was also under fire for a completely different reason. He was scrutinized for missing a total of 14 board meetings during his term as treasurer. Mandel claims he was not in the wrong because he “sent representatives to all of those meetings,” but regardless, the people of Ohio learned of his record as a frequent absentee.

 

In this year’s Nov. 4 elections, Mandel is hoping to secure a second term as Ohio’s treasurer. He is running against Cincinnati-based Connie Pillich, who is not afraid to bring up Mandel’s past in her campaigning. The people of Ohio remember the good things that Mandel did for them, but they also remember the scandals.

 

On John Carroll’s campus, two students agreed to talk about what they thought of Mandel’s campaign and whether or not they thought the people of Ohio would give him one more chance.

 

The first student, Chelsea Robertson, is a junior from Boston, so she had no idea who Mandel was or the scandals that follow him. After hearing an explanation of his history, she said, “Entrusting someone with such great power and then watching him not follow through is a great disappointment. He had his chance to prove himself, and if he is elected again after being so flaky, then shame on the people of Ohio.”

 

The second student interviewed, Jackie Nash, is a sophomore from a small town in Ohio. She said she felt that Mandel did a “terrible job” of representing her state and she is hoping that the same mistake is not made twice. “It is time for a change, a change for the better.”

 

The race for treasurer will be an important one to watch; Mandel has a lot to prove.