In a June 8 article, the Dayton Daily News asked if telephone townhall meetings hosted by my office are a public service or campaign activity.
The answer is simple: They’re a public service, grounded in the belief that government works best when elected leaders are listening to the people.
Speaking about leadership, General Colin Powell once said, “Real leaders make themselves accessible and available.”
I agree with this point and as your State Treasurer, I take pride in making myself accessible to you, my constituent. In fact, I don’t just see you as my constituent, I see you as my boss.
By hosting townhall meetings in-person and on the telephone, I’m working to empower my 11.5 million bosses to have your voices heard and provide feedback on how I can best serve and fight for your family.
Some people, when elected to public office, hide from their constituents and act like they’re above interacting with them. I take the opposite approach and take pride in empowering you to ask me questions and hold me accountable.
Partisan political hacks have recently attacked my efforts to be accessible to you through these types of townhall meetings, but their attacks fall on deaf ears and drown in hypocrisy. I am following in the footsteps of Dayton-area and statewide leaders on both sides of the aisle who have hosted such meetings for many years.
Being accessible to our constituents is not a Democrat or Republican thing, rather, it’s a matter of public service and leadership. When my office hosts these townhall meetings, we ensure that the topics of discussion fall under the umbrella of public service — not partisan politics.
Recent topics of discussion have included ideas to grow Ohio’s economy, increase government transparency, stop government workers from double-dipping on taxpayer dime and lower property taxes for senior citizens and working families.
Regarding property taxes, I have a strong record of fighting for lower property taxes and will continue that fight in my time as State Treasurer. I believe policy makers should be doing everything they can to give property tax relief to senior citizens, which in turn will help seniors afford to stay in their homes and their communities.
Years ago, when I was a city councilman representing 15,000 people in Lyndhurst, I would hear directly from constituents about issues facing their families. I was constantly approached at the grocery store or while out to dinner with my family with ideas on how to make our community better. People would ask me about parks and potholes, and seniors would tell me about challenges paying property taxes on a fixed income.
When I was a State Representative representing 119,000 people near the neighborhood where I grew up, I knocked on thousands of doors to hear from constituents about the kitchen table issues they cared about. I wore out a lot of shoe leather and was honored to bring with me to the Statehouse input from the people I represented back home.
Today, as State Treasurer, I still regularly get feedback from Ohioans. Whether it’s an employee at a gas station, a waitress at a restaurant, or a neighbor at a backyard barbeque, I always listen. Citizens ask questions on a variety of issues impacting their families, and often people want to know how the state’s finances are doing, if their hard-earned dollars are safe and what I’m doing as Treasurer to make Ohio stronger.
If you would like to ask a question or just listen in, I encourage you to join me on my upcoming telephone townhall meeting, today, June 19, at 7:15 p.m. You can participate by calling 1-855-269-4484 or learn more by visiting www.OhioTreasurer.gov. Government is most efficient when the people are actively engaged and I hope you’ll call in June 19th to have your voice heard.
Josh Mandel is the Treasurer of Ohio and seeking reelection.