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Rob Richardson Touts Civil Rights Focus In Treasurer Campaign

Rob Richardson

The Democratic candidate for Ohio state treasurer said Monday that he would use his role as the state's investment chief to encourage a culture of diversity and a shift away from investing in for-profit prisons.

Rob Richardson is one of two black candidates on Ohio's November statewide ballot.

He said at a news conference Monday in Columbus that he wants to promote civil rights as treasurer. He says that includes working with and investing in companies that share similar values.

"I'm hearing a lot of talk in this country that we're not going to embrace diversity, we're not going to embrace civil rights of everyone, as if that somehow makes us great," Richardson said. "And I think we have to remind folks that America has always been at its greatest when we focus on diversity of experience, diversity of thought, diversity itself. We can really only have that focus when we're intentional about making sure that everyone's included in our story."

Richardson, 39, a Cincinnati attorney, said he would encourage divestment from for-profit prisons and conduct a detailed cost analysis of Ohio's criminal justice system.

He faces Republican Robert Sprague, 45, a four-term Republican state representative from Findlay, this fall for the seat being vacated by Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who's term-limited.

Sprague has called Richardson's vision for the office an overreach of the treasurer's authority. His campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Sprague appeared later Monday at a joint appearance with Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine to discuss Issue 1, which Richardson said he supports.

The issue proposes reducing penalties for many drug-related crimes, along with other sweeping prison reforms opposed by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor among others.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Richardson is the only black candidate on Ohio's statewide ballot. Melody J. Stewart, a Democratic candidate for Ohio Supreme Court, is also running.