9 years on the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees
10 years as a labor attorney practicing securities litigation
I served for nine years on the Board of Trustees at UC, where I had a great deal oversight on our billion-dollar budget. I'm proud to say that, during my tenure, we experienced record enrollment and growth, accumulated millions of dollars in cash reserves, and were ranked the #1 return on public school investment for students by PolicyMic. I chose to run for this position because I believe the treasurer is an integral yet often underutilized office. I have plans for the office that go above and beyond the bare minimum requirements and seek innovative approaches to use the state's money to expand access and opportunities to people throughout Ohio.
June 2002, B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati
May 2005, Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati
I’m running because I believe I am the best candidate for this office. I have a strong track record of safeguarding and growing assets. During my nine years on the Board of Trustees at the University of Cincinnati I oversaw unprecedented growth and helped grow our cash reserves by over $300 million. During my tenure on the Board, UC was voted the number one return on investment for public colleges by PolicyMic. I believe I am the best candidate for this office because of my values and commitment to building a better state for all Ohioans, not just those in power. As a longtime union member, I believe in the necessity for a strong middle class and policies that elevate working Ohioans while holding the powerful accountable. I’ve been a fighter for people my entire career and I want to continue to this as Ohio’s next treasurer.
I’m not convinced the office needs to cut any services, though I am concerned about the direction previous treasurers have decided to go. I know the treasurer should absolutely not use taxpayer dollars for things that benefit them more than the office. I think the challenges that face the office have to do with restoring accountability to taxpayers. That means using the office to promote services that benefit the public, like financial empowerment programs or low-interest student loans. It also means potentially divesting from entities that harm people, like for-profit prisons.
Overseeing the safety and management of our public pension funds is one of the treasurer's most important duties. I personally don't believe ceding this power is necessarily in the our best interest. The people of Ohio need leaders who will serve their interests above all else, and with me they have the opportunity to elect a treasurer who will use the powers and influence of the office to bring more opportunities to them while holding the powerful accountable. I want to ensure we invest in entities that bring more than just a good return on investment, such as jobs or new technologies that will help us further down the road. I will select people that share my vision and priorities for Ohio's best interests.
While I plan to continue the Ohio Checkbook, I hope to substantially improve on its scope and efficacy. I am a strong supporter of transparency in government spending, but I feel the Checkbook would be better utilized scrutinizing how much our state spends on some of the large entities we do business with. I feel it’s more important to examine how much money we give to private prison companies, large drug corporations, and for-profit charter schools, rather than school districts and other public spending in small municipalities. I believe taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going, and what kind of economic return they’re getting on their investment.
While I haven’t held public office before, I’ve been serving the public for a long time. As a kid I learned about politics and the power of organized action by spending time in the labor movement with my father. In college I participated in student government, eventually becoming Student Body President and founding UC’s collegiate chapter of the NAACP. I did all of this despite having been told at a young age that I’d never go to college. If it weren’t for the support of my family and others who believed in me, I wouldn’t have made it. I know there are many who don’t have that kind of support system, which is why I’ve always done everything I can to fight for those who have been counted out. As your next treasurer, I will do everything I can to ensure every Ohioan has the opportunity to prosper.
State Representative, 83rd District, 2011-Present
Auditor, City of Findlay 2008-2011
Treasurer, City of Findlay 2005-2008
Principal, Vasa Capital, Findlay Ohio 2005
Owner, Talus Technology, Atlanta GA 1998
Management Consultant, Ernst & Young, 1996
Duke University, BSA Mechanical Engineering, 1996 cum laude
MBA, University of North Carolina, 2003, 7th in the class, emphasis in finance
I am running for Treasurer because I want to make a positive and meaningful difference in the lives of Ohioans. As Treasurer, I will lead with the experience and knowledge gained from a strong finance-based education, a successful career in the private sector and public policy expertise at the local and state government levels. With global experience in private investment and management consulting, a degree from Duke University and an MBA with an emphasis in finance from the University of North Carolina, I believe that my professional experience and education make me uniquely qualified to safeguard our treasury and manage our state's investments. Furthermore, I have a fully formed vision to transform the Office of the Treasurer into a tool to address some of Ohio's most pressing problems. I not only have the experience and knowledge necessary to expertly execute the core duties of the Office, but the passion and determination to do so much more.
Instead of looking at the biggest challenges facing the Treasurer's office, I've developed my platform by identifying the biggest challenges facing the state and then determining how the Treasurer can make a difference. One area in particular I will focus on is the standardization of social impact bonds (SIBs) to help fight the opiate epidemic, infant mortality and other societal ills. SIBs foster partnerships between the public and private sectors, where the private market develops new programs, but the public sector only pays if the new programs can be proven to deliver results. This innovative financial tool will bring the private sector to the table in a meaningful way and introduce a new funding stream to the effort to tackle Ohio's most pressing problems. I encourage readers to visit SpragueForOhio.com/vision to find a more detailed overview of my plans for the office.
According to Ohio law, the Treasurer of State only has a fiduciary role for the state's pension funds, simply keeping the deposits and securities safe. However limited, this is an important responsibility that I take very seriously because individuals pay into these systems their entire working lives with the assurance that the money will be there when they need it. That's why I strongly believe that there is no place for playing politics with people's pensions and stand firmly opposed to leveraging the power of the Treasurer to pressure the pension funds into making investment decisions simply to advance one's personal political agenda. While I do believe that having the Treasurer retain contractual authority with the depository institutions provides an important check in the process, my door is always open to our pension systems for further discussion on this and other matters in order to ensure pensioners' retirement assets are adequately safeguarded and maximized.
I believe increased transparency leads to greater accountability, which is why I created an annual financial report as Auditor of Findlay to help people better understand the city's finances. During my state travels, I often hear praise for Ohio's Online Checkbook, which gives the public access to how their tax dollars are spent. As Treasurer, I plan to take this program to next level by further expanding the scope and capabilities of the program--creating a smart Online Checkbook. Drawing upon my private sector experience as a business and financial consultant, I'll empower taxpayers to use the data to benchmark spending, make comparisons across agencies and better identify government efficiencies (or inefficiencies). Additionally, I will work to further increase participation in the program so that all Ohioans have a window into spending at every level of government.
My grandmother always used to tell me that my actions spoke so loudly she could hardly hear me. This childhood lesson stuck and has had a profound impact on the type of action-oriented leader I am today. I am a problem-solver who was trained to deliver results and I believe Ohioans deserve the high degree of professionalism and type of ethical leadership that I will bring to the Treasurer's Office. With the full support of my wife and five children, I have spent the past two years traveling the state, introducing myself to people and sharing with them my values and my innovative vision for the Treasurer's Office. I look forward to continuing to earn the trust and support of Ohioans and to serving with honesty and integrity as Ohio's next Treasurer of State.