CHICAGO — New Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has tapped a former Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP public finance attorney to oversee the office’s debt issuance.

The treasurer’s office acts as one of the state’s chief debt issuers. It plans to come to market with five tax-exempt borrowings that total $177 million over the next few months.

Seth Metcalf joins the state from the Columbus office of Squire Sanders, one of Ohio’s top bond firms.

There he oversaw numerous tax-exempt and taxable municipal financings and advised governments on a range of issues, including bond insurance, letters of credit, and interest-rate swaps, the treasurer’s office said.

In his new position as general counsel and director of legal and financial affairs, Metcalf will oversee the department of debt management.

Joe Aquilino, who served as Mandel’s political director during last year’s campaign, will directly manage bond issuance.

“Treasurer Mandel’s office will continue to maintain Ohio’s strong credit rating,” Metcalf said in an e-mailed statement. “We will also work with integrity to find creative solutions to the state’s financial challenges.”

He replaces Jake Wozniak, who served as the director of the office of debt management in the treasurer’s office for six years under three administrations before leaving earlier this month.

Wozniak managed more than $13 billion of state-backed bond issues, including the $5.5 billion Buckeye tobacco deal, which was the nation’s largest tax-exempt tobacco securitization deal.

“I wish the new administration all the best,” Wozniak said.

The treasurer traditionally sells the state’s debt through negotiated sales. However, Mandel is still deciding whether he will utilize competitive or negotiated sales, a spokesman said.

The office also plans to hire a new finance team to assist on bond issues but has not yet decided whether or when to issue a new request for qualifications, said spokesman Seth Unger.

Officials would say only that the treasurer plans to “implement a process to determine which financial advisers and underwriters are qualified to do business with the office, and this process will be publicly announced.”

The treasurer’s office last issued an RFQ in 2009 and it extends through June 2011, though Mandel can void its terms at any time.

The Ohio treasurer is one of three primary issuers for state-backed bonds. The office issues general and special obligation bonds and is also the issuer of non-tax state revenue bonds and acts as conduit issuer for industrial development bond programs.

The state’s other two primary issuers are the Ohio Public Facilities Commission and the Ohio Building Authority.

Mandel is a 33-year-old Republican who prior to taking office had served two terms as an Ohio state representative of the 17th District.

He takes over as the state faces an estimated $8 billion two-year budget shortfall. New Republican Gov. John Kasich will unveil a spending plan by March 15.

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