VOICES: 2022 looks promising for Dayton

Jeff Mims, Jr. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Jeff Mims, Jr. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

We have so much to look forward to in Dayton.

For several years now, our city has been on the move. While it’s true that the COVID-19 pandemic and some very challenging events have had profound effects on our city, this Daytonian can’t help but believe that we are even stronger and better prepared to continue moving forward.

It is my most sincere hope that the momentum we’ve experienced downtown and in some areas grows to include all Dayton neighborhoods. We can move our city in that direction, and I invite everyone to contribute to the transformation however you can.

As we begin a new year and I assume the Mayor’s Office on Jan. 3, I have several areas of focus in mind for Dayton’s near future. My pledge to Dayton residents is to work with both wisdom and resilience for the benefit of our people and neighborhoods.

Hard work and collaboration are needed to continue on our upward path — fortunately, working hard and working together are two things Daytonians do best.

We have an unprecedented opportunity in the form of ARPA (the federal American Recovery Plan Act), which is bringing $138 million to Dayton for a variety of much-needed improvements and investments.

The resulting Dayton Recovery Plan was recently approved by the City Commission after extensive community participation, as well as leadership by City Manager Shelley Dickstein. My fellow Commissioners and I are proud to be able to say that Dayton is a national leader in developing an ARPA plan that is strongly shaped by the community. Neighborhood improvements, removal of blight, support for black- and brown-owned businesses, community-based initiatives and more are key pieces of the Dayton Recovery Plan.

Too many Dayton residents struggle to afford even the basics for their families. I want to increase the median income for our residents, and it’s clear that good jobs and early childhood education are essential for a more prosperous community.

I look forward to announcing initiatives that strengthen our ability to create jobs, particularly in manufacturing, as well as our ability to retain and attract talent in our community. We will build upon work already underway, in collaboration with the many strong partners in our region.

Dayton is very fortunate to now have high-quality, affordable pre-school programs available community-wide through Preschool Promise and a network of providers. This didn’t happen by accident — Dayton voters demonstrated their commitment to this essential need when they approved Issue 9 in 2016. We will continue to support pre-school availability for Dayton families.

We have a new police chief in town, Kamran Afzal. Chief Afzal believes in the extraordinary importance of building and strengthening relationships, and I look forward to working with him to further implement the hard and critical work of police reform that has been underway for over a year. New, long-term committees with community membership have recently been formed to guide that work.

One of the effects of the pandemic is the shift to working at home for many workers in some industries. This shift is compelling the City of Dayton (and many other communities) to once again look at our finances and begin the challenging work of responding to potential future budget gaps caused by possible declines in local income taxes (upon which the City’s general fund depends). This too will require strong leadership at City Hall, and we are up to the challenge.

The direction in which our city is moving would not be possible without outgoing Mayor Nan Whaley. She has been a remarkable leader of our city during some very tough times and an incredible friend. It’s absolutely true that she leaves the city in considerably better shape, and I am proud to have served with her these last eight years.

I’m also proud to soon be serving on the newly seated Commission with veteran Commissioner Matt Joseph, Commissioners Chris Shaw and Darryl Fairchild and incoming Commissioner Shenise Turner-Sloss. All of them love Dayton and are humbled by the opportunity to serve.

So, let’s get to work and make good things happen for Dayton. Our great city deserves it.

Jeffery J. Mims, Jr., will be take the oath of office as Dayton’s next mayor on January 3.

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