State Rep. Connie Pillich, D-Montgomery, outlined issues she will address if elected state treasurer during a weekend visit with the Jefferson County Democratic Party.
Accompanied by state Rep. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, Pillich appeared at a Christmas party held by the group at the Mingo Junction Knights of Columbus Hall. It's among campaign stops she will make in her bid against Republican incumbent Josh Mandel next year.
A graduate of the University of Cincinnati school of law with a master's degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota, Pillich said she is well qualified to serve as treasurer.
"I also had the best leadership training in the world as an officer in the U.S. Air Force," she said.
A captain in the Air Force, she was named Officer of the Year at Tempelhof Air Base in West Berlin, Germany, and was three-time recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal.
She was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2008 and twice re-elected in a district comprised largely of Republicans.
Pillich has served on several House committees, including veterans affairs, where she is ranking minority member; criminal justice, where she has served as vice chair; financial institutions, real estate and securities; and housing and urban development.
She said as treasurer she will ensure Ohioans' taxes and money paid by public employees into a state pension fund are secure and invested wisely.
As a legislator she has pushed for better funding of public schools, noting the state Supreme Court on more than one occasion has found the state's funding system to be unconstitutional.
Pillich said not only does the state have a moral responsibility to educate its youth, it's economically advantageous for the state to prepare them for its future workforce.
"When we fail our schools, we shortchange our state," she said.
Pillich said many don't realize the treasurer's office has an economic development arm that can help schools and small businesses find resources, aid farmers who have suffered from droughts and assist in other ways.
She said she'd also work to raise awareness of the office's financial literacy programs, such as Ohio Save Now, which offers a fixed 3 percent interest rate for three years to residents who establish savings accounts of $1,000 to $5,000.
"There's a lot of opportunity in this office to make Ohio stronger, but you need someone who's committed to the office, as I am," Pillich said.