MARTINS FERRY -- Josh Mandel is 36 years of age. He could pass for 21.
He is the treasurer for the state of Ohio. And, in my opinion, he is one sharp cookie.
Mandel paid a visit to Martins Ferry Wednesday, holding a roundtable discussion at the recreation center. Martins Ferry Development Director Kathy Gagin was the driving force in making the event come to fruition.
Mandel said he is making a concerted effort to visit Eastern Ohio on a more frequent basis. After the hour-long session in Ferry, Mandel and his assistant were off to Cambridge for another session.
The Ohio State University graduate, who earned his juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve, said all the right things to a disappointing turnout of just 19.
That figure included Mandel, his assistant and this scribe. Several banking officials were on hand as well as Martins Ferry city and chamber representatives. No Belmont County officials were in the house.
"I am all for protecting coal jobs as well as those in the oil and gas industry," Mandel said. "I know what they mean to this part of the state. They are an integral part of the economic strength of Appalachia.
"Murray Energy, in particular, provides thousands of well-paying jobs throughout the state," he added. "My objective is not for the state of Ohio to spend time attracting businesses from other states, but rather create a better environment for existing businesses. I have fought against the EPA."
Mandel repeatedly voiced his allegiance to Eastern Ohio.
"I also understand the hardships created by the reduction of Local Government Funding. I would like to see LGF allocations boosted," he said. "I plan on making more visits to this part of the state. I have no problem hopping in the car and driving here. I wish other state officials spent more time in this part of Ohio."
He did stress that a college degree is not a requirement for career success.
"Our young people need to realize that it is OK to seek a vocation without a four-year college degree. There are plenty of good blue-collar jobs out there," he noted. "Many of our community colleges offer technology programs that will yield worthwhile jobs. Zane State is a pioneer in providing field labs."
Gagin noted that many schools in our local area also provide ideal training opportunities for those seeking good jobs without attending a four-year institution."
Mandel was first elected state representative in 2006 before being elected state treasurer in 2010.
After graduating from Ohio State in 2000, Mandel served eight years in the Marine Corps, including two tours of duty in Iraq.
As Ohio's treasurer, Mandel has earned the highest possible rating from Standard & Poor's for the $3 billion government investment fund he manages. He also earned the highest rating from Fitch for the state's short-term General Obligation bonds.
"I want to bring transparency to government," Mandel said. "I want to shed the spotlight on how the state spends its money."
Mandel lives in northeast Ohio with his wife Ilana and their daughter Rosie.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com