Toledo Blade: Tim Ryan is hot on infrastructure to boost local economies

A 90‑degree day probably isn’t the best time to visit Toledo’s water treatment facility, the city’s main line of defense against algae particles, viruses, bacteria, and organisms found in raw Lake Erie water that’s drawn into the plant to be made into tap water.

But the heat didn’t stop U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Howland, Ohio) from taking an hour‑long spin through the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant on Tuesday, a stop for his U.S. Senate campaign meant to highlight infrastructure and emphasize his worker‑centric message.

“I was ready to jump in,” Mr. Ryan joked after the tour, which was closed to the media. 

Baking on the pavement outside the treatment facility’s main building afterward, Mr. Ryan said water infrastructure is essential for sustaining and growing the local economy.

“I think the main issue here in Toledo and northwest Ohio is how do we create good‑paying jobs. And when you look at the future industries, when you look at building electric vehicles, when you look at a factory to build batteries, one of the key components you have there is water. You need water … so facilities like this are going to be really critical to creating the jobs of the future, and that’s what the infrastructure bill we’re working on in D.C. is all about,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan said he supports the bipartisan infrastructure deal negotiated by President Biden and a group of lawmakers, including Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman. He also supports a separate bill with Democratic priorities that weren’t part of the main package.

The bipartisan bill would fund $1 trillion in road, bridge, rail, port, and waterway infrastructure, an investment that proponents argue will benefit the economy overall. 

“We’ve got a long way to go, and we’re not going to achieve that growth and get those jobs if we don’t have infrastructure like this, so we need to highlight how these public investments will lead to good‑paying jobs,” Mr. Ryan said, noting how China is surpassing the United States in new battery and electric vehicle plants. 

“It’s nobody’s fault. All this stuff was built at the same time, it all needs fixing at the same time,” he said, pointing to the water treatment building behind him, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated in 1941 as part of his New Deal-era Public Works Administration.

“So let’s upgrade, let’s make the public investments and get the jobs of the future here in places like Ohio, as opposed to Beijing, China,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan currently has the Democratic lane to himself in the U.S. Senate primary. He said he isn’t paying attention to what five potential GOP rivals might be saying about him at this stage in the race.

“I’ve got a long record. It’s one thing to tweet stuff; it’s another thing to do stuff,” he said.