Staff Writer

Ashtabula County holds the answer to a burning question for undefeated five-time "Jeopardy!" champion and Ohio treasurer candidate Richard Cordray: "Who is Sandy O'Brien?"

Now Franklin County treasurer, Cordray is in a political face-off with O'Brien for the state treasurer seat.

Ohio voters will elect a new governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and state treasurer, placing new officeholders in five state offices. O'Brien beat Republican incumbent Jennette Bradley in the May primary and will contest the state-treasurer seat with Cordray in November.

"Campaigning is tougher than 'Jeopardy!' It is far more time-consuming and takes much more effort, but it is worth it," Cordray said.

Cordray found O'Brien's small-town roots in Ashtabula County during a visit through the area Thursday afternoon. What he couldn't find was her budget experience.

"The Franklin County treasurer's office oversees a $650 million budget at any given time. I have the same small-town roots and values as Ms. O'Brien, but I can match that with the big-budget experience needed for the state seat," Cordray said.

Ohio's multibillion-dollar budget doesn't intimidate Cordray, as he collects $1.5 billion in property taxes annually in Franklin County and manages the county's investment portfolio. Its bond issues enjoy a AAA rating.

"It is important to make good decisions. Poor decisions cost taxpayers money. Millions of dollars are lost when care is not taken or when money is mishandled," Cordray said.

Cordray's plan for Ohio includes initiatives to keep educated young people in Ohio, programs to prevent mortgage foreclosures and to educate public school students in personal finances.

"We have to make sure Ohio money is put to work in Ohio communities. We have to help people safeguard their money on a personal basis, to make better judgments financially," Cordray said.

"The right attitude is almost as important as a financial watchful eye. I am proud of my work in cooperating with federal officials on both sides of the political aisle. The right attitude is better for taxpayers. Friction is not the way an office is handled; it is simply not the way things are done.

"I am looking forward to what should be a spirited race," he said.

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