[Submitted by: Min Dale Edwards Executive Director Call and Post]
If we don’t get out and vote this November to save our democracy from the enormous harm being done to it, it might be too late, Democratic Ohio Treasurer candidate Rob Richardson said in an interview last week.
“Things are bad now, but if we don’t have a balance brought back to our government in this election, things will absolutely get worse,” he warned. “We will legitimize all the things that have happened and they will become acceptable.”
Those in power in the Republican Party will feel empowered to do more, to go further, and the only way to stop them is to put a check on their power by electing Democrats this November, Richardson said.
“We’re going to have to be motivated. We’re going to have to be inspired. And we’re going to have to work as if our democracy and our rights depend on it because they really do,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that in his lifetime he has never before seen overt hate mainstreamed like it has been.
“As I say often, there is no magical blue wave that is coming to save us,” he said. “There are no responsible Republicans who are willing to stand up, or they would’ve done it a long time ago. We are going to have to work for our democracy or it may not be there.”
This is on the ballot whether people realize it or not, he said.
Richardson said he sees the position of Ohio Treasurer differently than most.
“I look as the Treasurer’s Office not just as something that focuses on numbers, but really something that can be used to empower people and create systemic reform,” he said. “I’m going to use the power of this office -- the power of the purse -- to hold the powerful accountable.”
He said he would lead by divesting the state from bad actors who are causing harm, holding up the for-profit prison industry as an example.
Richardson said it’s immoral to have a prison system that is based upon profit instead of keeping people safe and rehabilitating offenders. It’s the reason why Ohio has the fourth largest prison population in the United States and have more people in prison than New York, he said.
Richardson would conduct a fiscal impact analysis on the criminal justice system and analyze best practices from other states to help decrease the number of those incarcerated while still keeping the community safe.
“That’s been done in other states. We can learn from that and save taxpayer dollars where we can while providing opportunities for people,” he said.
Beyond that, Richardson said he would like to invest in economic development, more low-interest student loans and refinancing for those already in debt as Ohio is one of the leading states in the nation for student debt.
This is especially important right now as the Trump Administration is currently removing protections for student borrowers and Republicans in Ohio have failed to act on their behalf.
“I want to make sure that we fight to expand access and opportunities for others. It’s been my passion. It’s why I’ve done everything I’ve done and it’s why I’m running for this position right now,” he said.
Richardson has a history of facing obstacles and overcoming them. It motivates everything he does, he said. He was in learning disability classes from the second to the eighth grade and struggled in school, but was fortunate to have a strong support system with two strong parents who didn’t allow him to accept limitations, he said.
“When I talked to my teachers and my counselors, and told them I wanted to start preparing for college, they told me, ‘It’s never going to happen for you. College is not meant for you because it’s not meant for everybody,’” Richardson shared. “Thankfully, I had a much better talk and support from my parents, in particularly my mother, and hearing her words, they still resonate with me to this day. She said, ‘Look Rob, you don’t have to be defined by anybody’s low or narrow expectations of you. You define yourself, for yourself, by yourself.’”
Richardson went on to graduate from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and then earned his law degree there before eventually being appointed to the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, and later its chairman.
Richardson said he wants voters to keep in mind that they have the power to really make a difference in November. The majority of the people in Ohio and across the country believe in diversity and investing in the future, he said, but we only get that if we work for it.