PDT Staff Writer
State Treasurer and candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sherrod Brown, Republican Josh Mandel was in town Thursday to meet with employees of the Portsmouth City Health Department and members of the Scioto County Prescription Drug Action Team.
Lisa Roberts, R.N., public health nurse with the Portsmouth City Health Department talked about the history of the prescription drug problem, including passage of House Bill 93 that regulated pain clinics, and eventually resulted in all of them closing in Scioto County. Those present also talked about the help Scioto County has received from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. Roberts touched on the economic woes caused by the closing of many of the area’s industries, and how that relates to the poor health rankings. Scioto County is in the bottom of Ohio’s 88 counties in health rankings.
Former Portsmouth Police Chief, and Independent candidate for Scioto County Sheriff, Charles Horner, gave Mandel the history of physicians who began mass producing prescriptions, leading to the pain clinic boom.
“About two to three years ago we saw the community come together collectively, physicians, educators, nurses, the Health Department, and law enforcement,” Horner said. “For the first time we grasped the ability to change things. And we went from 10 pill mills three years ago to zero today in Scioto County. We took action in that we got tired of waiting for the politicians to help us, and the federal government. And we took it to the media. And as a result of taking things to the media it removed the stigma.”
“It’s amazing what can happen when people put pressure on elected leaders,” Mandel responded.
Mandel said his campaign and his platform if elected senator is based on three issues - “jobs, jobs, and jobs.”
At one point Mandel talked about the need to get bipartisan work done in Washington. He was asked how his going to Washington could change the perceived gridlock in Congress.
“I’m the grandson of blue collar workers and they instilled in me appreciation for getting your hands dirty and working hard,” Mandel said. “I’m also a Marine Corps veteran, and the Marine Corps instilled in me backbone. And when I go to Washington, I will carry with me the values of hard work, sweat, and not getting pushed around by the establishment. So I plan on building a coalition of other senators who are willing to take on the establishment, and take on the political bosses on both sides of the aisle to do the right thing for the people.”
Mandel was asked about the fact that the U.S. Congress has the lowest approval rating in history.
“I think you need leaders who have the discipline to focus on economic issues, and to have the backbone to stand up to political bosses from their own party,” Mandel said. “As citizens see new people going to Washington, I think they’ll see folks like myself and others who have a focus on changing Washington. The only way to change Washington is to change the people we send there.”
Mandel was asked why things had not changed with the arrival of Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan.
“The best thing I can tell you is the combination of blue collar roots and Marine Corps values instill in me the strength to stand up to the establishment, to stand up to the political bosses on both sides of the aisle, and do the right thing for the people of the state,” Mandel said.
Mandel said he plans to “spend a disproportionate amount of time in southern Ohio.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.