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Ohio Turnpike Executive Director Randy Cole discusses self-driven cars, infrastructure policy, and leaving a legacy of good governance


“Within the next decade, we’ll see self-driven trucking units – probably with detachable cargo modules – carrying goods around the country,” Ohio Turnpike Executive Director Randy Cole told the Campaign Battleground class. “The major auto-manufacturers have all pledged to have a self-driving option for every car rolling off the line from model year 2020 on. There will be cars produced in the next five years that are driverless.”

Mr. Cole’s self-described career goal is to “make government more efficient through technology.” Prior to his appointment to the turnpike, Mr. Cole ran his own consulting firm, GovTech Solutions, dedicated to bringing technological efficiencies to government. Following GovTech, Mr. Cole joined State Auditor Mary Taylor’s Office as the Director Audit Services & Technology.

His time at the Auditor’s Office lead to an appointment to the Controlling Board as its president, where Mr. Cole worked as part of a large team to help close an $8 billionstate deficit, create a $2 billion state surplus, and expand Medicaid in Ohio.

“This year, our Medicaid costs in Ohio are a billion dollars below projections. We’re working toward paying for value [of medical procedures] instead of paying fee-for-service,” Mr. Cole told the class. Mr. Cole’s perspectives on government efficiency and budget policy give him unparalleled insight into infrastructure policy.

“Last year, we set an all-time record in the United States for vehicle mileage traveled,” he said, responding to a question regarding the state of America’s roads and highways. “On the Ohio Turnpike, we have 53 million trips – amounting to 3 billion miles – traveled annually.”

Though some states are experimenting with a “Roade Usage Charge” or millage-based tax, Mr. Cole maintains there will be other avenues for funding. “Tolling is a big part of the answer. It has to be. Funding solutions in the future have to include tolling,” Mr. Cole said. Even so, Mr. Cole notes that Ohio maintains, “near the lowest tolls for passenger and commercial vehicles in the Midwest.”

To be successful in politics, Mr. Cole suggests students “have thick skin, short memories, and a very close group of friends.” However, he was quick to remind the class, “There’s a difference between governing and politicking. Real governance becomes your legacy.”

Students and others are encouraged to follow Mr. Cole on Twitter @CRandyCole.