Voter Guide: Dayton City Commission

Voter Guide
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Voter Guide

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News invited local candidates to fill out the following questionnaire to inform readers.

VOTE FOR 2:

Stacey D. Benson-Taylor

ajc.com

Education: Juris Doctorate, University of Dayton School of Law

Current Employment: Montgomery County Recorder, CEO/Founder, Shine Like A Diamond Consulting, LLC.

Community Involvement: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; AFSCME Local 1342; Dayton Miami Valley Labor Council Executive Board member; Montgomery County Democratic Party Executive Committee member; Montgomery County Public Defender Commissioner; NAACP Dayton Unit Executive Committee member; Women of Soul Models mentor coordinator

Why are you seeking elected office? I am seeking elected office because I believe that I have the passion and experience it takes to be a bridge to a brighter future for Dayton, building on the things that have worked and improving the things that have not worked. I want to be an influencer and change maker who is able work with the current members of the commission to address neighborhood issues such as abandoned housing and waste, while being a visionary who works with community partners to spur continued economic development and growth.

Why should voters elect you? I understand the challenges and obstacles that our citizens and city face, and I believe that we can work to address these issues by building on the things that have worked and improving the things that have not. I am a lifelong Dayton resident, who attended Dayton Christian Schools. As a single mother, I worked at Delphi and Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office while obtaining my degrees from Sinclair, Wright State and University of Dayton School of Law. I have over 30 years experience serving employees in this community and have been a bridge to a brighter future for working families. As a union member and former union representative, I have represented employees throughout the Dayton region, including union employees at the city of Dayton for the last 15 years. I represented those employees through two recessions, the loss of a major airline, the transition of the Convention Center to a private entity and the many challenges that arose during thepandemic. During these difficult times, I negotiated with city officials and served as a bridge to creative solutions that increased revenue, cut costs and managed budget challenges with minimal job loss and interruption to vital services. My experience with the city budget, services and staffing levels allows me to holistically assess the needs of the community and be fiscally responsible. I left my position representing working families to run for office because I believe I can advocate for the citizens of Dayton the way I advocate for working families.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Building our communities from the inside out through revitalization and stabilization. 2. Stabilizing both the community and local economy by continuing to provide vital city services to our citizens, while maintaining appropriate staffing levels and balancing the city’s budget. 3. As a bridge to better community police relations, another one of my top budget priorities is ensuring that the recommendations of the five police reform working groups are appropriately funded.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. I will work to build our communities from the inside out by investing in job training and workforce strategies that prepare residents for good paying jobs; recruiting high-wage employers and supporting small and minority-owned businesses in accessing the resources they need to thrive. I will work to eliminate abandoned and/or neglected properties, and to provide resources to rehabilitate or replace viable properties with quality and affordable housing. I would also propose assisting homeowners who need assistance with repairs by providing access to programs and/or low-interest grants or loans. 2. I will work to continue providing vital city services to our citizens, while maintaining appropriate staffing levels and balancing the city’s budget. When the city departments are appropriately funded and staffed the city departments can more thoroughly address many of the issues that citizens report plague our communities for example, street paving, trash and waste removal and mowing vacant lots. Investment in city services is an investment in our neighborhoods that helps improve infrastructure and beautification, which helps create environments that lead to economic development and investment. 3. As a bridge to better community police relations and safer communities, my goal is to ensure that the safety forces are properly funded and the recommendations of the police reform working groups are funded and implemented. We must be committed to reviewing our public safety budget and allocating new funds and/or reallocating funds where necessary. We must also emphasize the importance of ongoing training and creative accountability measures that reinforce our values.

Anything else? Commissioner Jeff Mims Jr. (mayor candidate), Scott Sliver and I are running as a team. We have years of experience serving our community, and extensive backgrounds with balancing budgets and providing vital services. We are a positive team who is focused on the future of Dayton and all our city has to offer. Team Mims, Benson-Taylor and Sliver will be a bridge to a brighter future for Dayton, building on the things that have worked and improving the things that have not worked.

Darryl Fairchild

ajc.com

Credit: Knack Video + Photo

Education: United Theological Seminary, M. Div.; University of Cincinnati, B.A.; also attended Joint Doctoral Program at the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology.

Current Employment: Manager of Chaplain Services, Dayton Children’s Hospital

Community Involvement: Member of the NAACP, League of Women Voters, WYSO, Gem City Market, Fifth Street Brew Pub, Major Taylor Cycling Club Dayton. Previously appointed to the Greater Dayton Premier Management (DHA) Board and to the city of Dayton Human Relations Council.

Why are you seeking elected office? I love my neighbors and my city. A native Daytonian, I grew up in Belmont and attended DPS during the time of mandatory busing. Attending both Dunbar and Belmont High Schools, I learned to value people from all parts of the city, learning from them and working with them. My family was fortunate to have all that we needed and some of the things we wanted. I had friends who had all that they wanted and then some; and I had friends who did not even have what they needed. This experience planted a yearning for a better Dayton. One that values all of its residents. One where all children and youth are surrounded by real community. One where there are safe and vibrant neighborhoods. And, one where there is shared prosperity and an abundance of opportunity. This yearning developed in to a call to ministry and a commitment to public service. In 2018, voters affirmed my vision for Dayton and gave me the opportunity to serve as a Dayton city commissioner. During this term, I have served with integrity and have accomplished significant goals that advance that vision. I know there is more that needs to be accomplished and how to move the city forward. This is why I ask the voters to reelect me.

Why should voters elect you? I am the only candidate that has experience as a city commissioner. Over the last challenge-filled three years, I have demonstrated responsible and responsive leadership. I have a track record of accomplishments: I campaigned on creating a plan for our residential neighborhoods. Now, the visioning plans for three of our four neighborhood regions are complete. The fourth will be done by the end of the year. Together, they provide a road map to revitalize all of our neighborhoods. It is now time to prioritize neighborhood plans, implement them, and develop a comprehensive, equitable housing plan. I have worked to strengthen the relationship between police and community. This effort prepared the way for our police reform work. For nine months, over 100 citizens and police officers were organized into five work groups. I co-chaired the Training Work Group. After a period of research and education, 142 recommendations have been made. These recommendations are a great start, and I will work to see them implemented. I have worked to protect our water. I initiated the process that led to the charter change that citizens overwhelmingly approved. This change clarifies that our water system is a public utility and cannot be sold or leased to private entities.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? If reelected I will work to build on my accomplishments. In the near future, there is only one priority for the city commission. We will need to guide the city through a complicated and uncertain fiscal environment. We have both a generational opportunity and challenge. The opportunity - the city of Dayton will be receiving $138 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act; the challenge - we do not fully know the long-term financial impact of the pandemic. With the loss of jobs and people working from home, the city’s revenue is likely to be significantly reduced. These two factors and a multi-year recovery make it critical to use the $138 million wisely. Within this priority I will focus on 1. protecting basic services; 2. advancing neighborhood development including new homes, rehabilitation and demolition, improving business corridors, and investing in current and new businesses; and 3. assisting those impacted by the social distancing - our youth and our elders.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I am working with Shenise Turner-Sloss. Together we propose: 1. Increasing our housing inspection capacity so that every home is inspected over the next three years. 2. Develop a comprehensive housing plan with required programs for home repairs, renovation and ownership. The goal is to address the quality of our housing, including rental properties. Every citizen deserves safe, quality housing and every home owner deserves a safe, vibrant neighborhood. For example, a program for seniors on fixed income to repair their homes and keep them safe should be developed. Likewise, we should work with developers to identify locations for market rate housing. 3. We propose investing in our youth by working with community partners to implement afterschool and summer programing for our youth. Our youth have been significantly impacted by the isolation, uncertainty and stress of the pandemic. Further, this proposal advances the City of Learners Plan. This plan, like police reform, was developed by community leaders and is built on best practices.

Anything else? As an incumbent commissioner, I know what is required to serve as an effective commissioner. I know that while we have talked about making a pivot to the neighborhoods, with the $138 million in federal rescue funds, we now have a unique opportunity to improve our neighborhoods. I know Shenise Turner-Sloss. She is hard-working, smart, and shares my values and priorities. She is a logistics specialist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where she works with multibillion dollar contracts; and is a former city of Dayton employee, where she worked with programs for our neighborhoods. Her experience with budgets and neighborhood development make her uniquely qualified to serve well as a Dayton City Commissioner. I ask voters to vote for Shenise Turner-Sloss and me, Darryl Fairchild, this election.

Scott Sliver

ajc.com

Education: Degree in specialized technology, majoring in visual communication from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Current Employment: Dayton Vineyard Church

Community Involvement: Professional background in advertising (Kings Island, Merrill Lynch, Holiday Inn, Inland, Delco, NCR, etc.); small business owner; senior. associate pastor, Dayton Vineyard Church; mobile food pantry, groceries monthly, for hundreds of families in and around Dayton; Landmarks Commission (overseeing the 14 Historic Districts in Dayton); Community Police Council; Police Reform Working Group (Community Engagement); Executive Board, Dayton Unit NAACP (Communication, Press & Publicity); Mentoring kids in Dayton Public Schools

Why are you seeking elected office? I’m a community guy. The first reason I’m running is because the people I have been serving over the past decade asked me to. Little old ladies, retired veterans, single moms. They would say things like, “You should run for office. It would be nice to have someone who cared about us in office.” Over the years, our church has provided: back to school backpacks of school supplies, Thanksgiving meals, Christmas dinners and parties for hundreds of people with gifts. (Some of you may remember those Christmas parties at Van Cleve Elementary on North Main, or at Sinclair Community College!) The second reason is because I was asked to run by city officials. Ours is a team by design, not a marriage of convenience. Stacey Benson-Taylor and I both supported Issue 9 in 2016. Our opponents spoke out against it. Issue 9 provides funding for paving, preschool, police and other services. I was asked to run because I have put in the work. I know all the players. They know me, they like me and they trust me. I am ready on day one. I’m also endorsed by: County Commissioners Debbie Lieberman, Judy Dodge and Carolyn Rice; Mayor Nan Whaley; and three out of the four sitting city commissioners; the AFL-CIO and UFCW.

Why should voters elect you? I have a broad background in advertising and marketing, (I owned a small business for six years) communication and leadership in the nonprofit world. I am well-connected in the community. I sincerely believe I will be a great commissioner. I will work hard and do a good job for our citizens. I’m creative, smart and I’m approachable.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? In addition to ensuring that every citizen and neighborhood benefits $138 million in American Rescue Plan federal funds awarded to the city -- Ten years from now, every citizen should be able to drive through their neighborhood and point to something that was built or improved due to our city having received those funds. My top three priorities are: 1. Continue to fight hunger and work to eliminate food deserts in and around Dayton (Gem City Market is great, but it doesn’t fix the food desert issue.) 2. Work to increase opportunities for our children and families. Education (reading at grade level, mentoring); actively support the DPS Board, strengthen that relationship; attract businesses to Dayton, jobs that pay a living wage, assist small businesses; connect small business owners to resources -- I already do this regularly. 3. Improved and more transparent communication between the city and our citizens. More than a newsletter or an email. More than just posting information to a website, make every effort to keep citizens up to speed on what is happening and why. An open line of communication. Our citizens need to understand the budget and how decisions are made. They need to know what resources are available.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. I will plan and host a Hunger Summit, bringing all concerned players to the table to strategize and forge a path forward, with all parties working together to create solutions to this issue. 2. I will meet regularly with Dayton school board members and bring back the annual retreat that used to take place between the city commission and DPS board. Alongside of that, I will champion the cause of ensuring (and the stress the importance) that kids must be able to read at grade level by the third grade. Every kid would benefit from having a mentor. 3. I will meet with business owners to see what the city could do to make starting, moving expanding or owning a business in Dayton more attractive. 4. I will have an open-door policy with every citizen. They can call me directly with their concerns, and I will respond. I will create a new information pathway that goes beyond standard operating procedures. Or at least do my part to let our citizens know what it already in place to that end.

Anything else? Our team is Commissioner Jeff Mims for mayor; Stacey Benson-Taylor and myself, Scott Sliver, for Dayton City Commission. Stacey and I are running as a team, alongside Jeff, at his request. We bring a broad skill set and decades of service to this race and to the position. Jeff’s experience as an educator, having served on both the state and Dayton Public Schools boards, he is also a veteran who served in the Viet Nam war. He has eight years serving as a city commissioner, and a lifetime of service on his resume. Jeff is a team player. He will be a great mayor. Stacey’s experience as the regional director for AFCSME, representing all the hard-working city of Dayton employees, negotiating and fighting for their rights with the city leaders -- and they want her to be a commissioner. That is a huge show of respect. Stacey is a straight-shooter, smart and fair. She will be a great city commissioner. I ran against Commissioners Shaw and Joseph six years ago -- but they both asked me to run again, on this ticket, at this time. They know me, they like me and they respect the work that I have done on various appointed boards (Landmarks, CPC and Police Reform), as well as the work I have done since that time, and over the previous decades. My experience in advertising and marketing, communication, leadership and caring for our community, has uniquely prepared me for such a time as this.

Shenise Turner-Sloss

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Shenise Turner-Sloss. CONTRIBUTED

Shenise Turner-Sloss. CONTRIBUTED
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Shenise Turner-Sloss. CONTRIBUTED

Education: Master’s of science in administration, Central Michigan University

Current Employment: Logistics Management, Wright-Patterson AFB

Community Involvement: Member of the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., American Federation Government Employees (AFGE)-Local 1138 Union, Our Revolution, Higher Heights, Matriots, Working Families Party, and a board member for the African American Community Fund, Neighborhoods Over Politics and Sunlight Village.

Why are you seeking elected office? I am proud to be a lifelong Daytonian, but I am tired of seeing my neighbors suffer and struggle while those in power ignore us. Poverty, systemic racism, inequality, hunger, homelessness – ending these ills will take more than lip service from city hall. It is well past time for Dayton’s leadership to champion policies that make life better for poor and working-class people. As city commissioner, my mission will be to create responsive, bold policies and programming that help Daytonians meet their basic needs and thrive. I have decades of experience in logistics, project and program management, and community development at both the local and federal government level for the city of Dayton and WPAFB. I understand how government works and how it can work better to benefit people. Dayton deserves the best, and I intend to deliver my best as your next city commissioner. I have the experience and the knowledge to get started putting the residents of Dayton first on Day One.

Why should voters elect you? The time is now to elect a commissioner who has an authentic interest in the community and who will make decisions with equity and forethought. For too long, Dayton has been distracted and divided by politicians that promise change, investments and resources, but fail to deliver for anyone except the wealthy and well-connected. I believe that rebuilding trust within our community is necessary to bring isolated and disenfranchised groups into the halls of power and to make our city government more representative. We need a commissioner who knows what it’s like to be working class. In order to develop our workforce, we need a commissioner who values labor organizing. We also need a commissioner who knows what it’s like to raise a family in Dayton, and Commissioner Darryl Fairchild and I are the only candidates with children in Dayton Public Schools. Commissioner Fairchild and I are also the most experienced candidates. My graduate degree in administration opened the door for me in both local and federal government for the city of Dayton and then Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As a manager of grants, projects and programs, I have extensive experience in administering funding contracts and overseeing fund usage – key oversight roles of a Dayton city commissioner. Dayton should elect me because I will utilize my knowledge and experience to ensure our tax dollars and investments have measurable returns.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top three priorities as your Dayton city commissioner are to rebuild healthy neighborhoods, strengthen business relationships and put the residents first. Healthy neighborhoods are why people choose to live in cities and lead to increased quality of life. This is something that has been neglected in our neighborhoods so that public dollars could be directed downtown. Strengthening business relationships involves fostering entrepreneurship and helping our small businesses grow into medium-sized businesses and our medium-sized businesses grow into regional employers. This is important to encourage companies to maintain loyalty to the city so they do not just pick up and leave whenever another city offers a better deal or tax breaks. We cannot keep giving out tax abatements to lure out of town companies who will disappear whenever a better deal comes forward. Putting the residents first is about re-prioritizing the city’s goals and actions around what the residents want. This also involves strengthening our democratic channels and resident engagement so more Daytonians can be involved in the governing process. This helps to ensure that all residents are equally represented.

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? I’ve attended several community listening sessions and heard the concerns revolving around blighted and vacant structures. As commissioner, I will prioritize investing the $138 million in federal COVID-19 recovery funds in neighborhoods and infrastructure improvements while also creating an aggressive demolition plan. I will create a “Fix My Block” program that enables homeowners to invest in their own property by providing grants and low-interest loans for repairs of their primary residence. I will work to protect homeowners from increases in property taxes by advocating for a county Longtime Owner Occupant Protection tax exemption. Renters need protection, too, and we should follow the lead of New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Newark and Baltimore in guaranteeing tenants legal representation in eviction hearings. Researchers found that the cost of the program was more than paid for by savings to the city and state on homeless shelters, Medicaid spending, school funding and foster care costs. There is also an affordable housing crisis, and I will back-up my advocacy for decent, affordable housing with policy proposals. For example, the city should relaunch the Lot Links 2.0 program to create a path for the rehabilitation of many of the 11,000 blighted structures into affordable housing opportunities for those experiencing housing instability. Lot Links 2.0 must include a partnership with the Montgomery County Treasurer’s Office and prioritize low-interest loans and grants to Dayton residents.

Anything else? I believe that there are systemic problems in Dayton that have contributed to a long trend of flight to the suburbs and stagnant home prices in Dayton. The city has not sufficiently invested in public services, amenities or beautification for all Dayton communities, and has allowed blight and illegal dumping to continue to be a major stain on our neighborhoods. In order to build a better future for Dayton, we are going to need a strong, experienced progressive candidate who knows how to organize a movement that can challenge the Dayton political machine. My campaign has been endorsed by organized labor such as the IUE-CWA, AFGE Local 1138, AFGE National, UAW 696, and OPCMIA Local 132, and also progressive organizations such as the Working Families Party, Ohio Revolution, Sunrise Movement – Dayton, Dayton/Miami Valley DSA, Run For Something, Democracy for America, and many more. I hope you’ll consider electing me as your next Dayton city commissioner.