*Photo Credit: Devon Valinsky/Polis Media

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango visited the University of Pittsburgh Monday night for a meet-and-greet with students, hosted by the Pitt College Republicans. Roughly 40 students were in attendance at the event.

Mango, a veteran and graduate of West Point and Harvard Business School, spent the first ten minutes of the event laying out his personal background and general vision for the state.

Mango considers himself to be living the American Dream as a first-generation college graduate and grandson of an Italian immigrant. The candidate stated his reason for getting in the race was his biggest fear: that the current generation — along with the next one — will not have the same opportunities that he had. Mango hopes to be known as the “growth candidate” and emphasized Pennsylvania’s need for economic mobility through restored institutions, beginning with family and education. Mango, commenting that “all work is a blessing,” further laid out his desire to restore the dignity in trade and vocational training, believing that state-funded institutions should play a role in this undertaking.

When asked about his differences with one of his chief opponents for the Republican nomination, State Senator Scott Wagner, Mango quipped that Wagner “hasn’t published his policies yet” — and thus, he could only talk about his own plans. Specifically, his top five priorities that much of the speech focused on: economic and job growth, education, the opioid epidemic, affordable healthcare, and fiscal solvency. Alluding to Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, Mango underlined the role of the individual in government as something that needs to be restored in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Discussing Governor Tom Wolf — or “Thomas the Tax Engine Wolf,” as Mango calls him — he noted that the current governor’s largest concern is income inequality. Mango attributes this to a lack of opportunity, which he believes education can solve. He pointed to Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, and the University of Pennsylvania as academic institutions that can transform the state further through medical research and technological advancement.

During the question and answer session, Mango fielded questions from students on a wide range of issues that included: rising tuition at Pennsylvania state colleges, the opioid crisis, energy, privatized liquor sales, recreational marijuana, and the Pennsylvania state budget.

Regarding what makes him more qualified over an incumbent state senator, like Wagner, Mango responded at length: “Radically different leadership training; radically different relative business experience. I spent 25 years bringing change to large institutions that couldn’t change themselves — that’s what I did at McKinsey & Company. [I have] a much greater sense of obligation to my country, and a plan. I’m the only one that has a plan. So those four things: much better leadership training, much more relevant business experience, much greater sense of obligation, and a plan.”

When asked why events like this are important for students, Pitt College Republicans vice-president Lorenzo Riboni stated that “it’s really important for members of the Pitt community to meet candidates who are running for office whether they agree with them or not.”

For more information on Paul Mango’s plan for Pennsylvania, visit http://www.mangoforpa.com.