On the other side are the quieter, hyper-local races (your school board and tax levies and city council) — where the person running for office might live a block down the street from you, or might be the one who decides whether that street gets paved, or decides what your school does or doesn’t teach.
The Dayton Daily News aims to give voters complete information about both pieces of the election — via stories our reporters have researched and written (collected at DaytonDailyNews.com/elections), and via the candidates’ own words in our Voter Guide (www.daytondailynews.com/voter-guide).
Here are some of the key issues in the Nov. 7 election that will shape our cities, townships, schools, parks and state in the years to come.
School board leaders
Public school boards make big decisions — Bellbrook’s debate on whether to give staff access to guns, Centerville’s strategic plan to define educational priorities for years to come, Huber Heights’ choice to build a multimillion-dollar career tech center.
Every district in the Miami Valley has school board candidates on the ballot this election. In places like Kettering, Fairborn, Tipp City and others, those are hotly contested races. In other communities, such as Vandalia and West Carrollton, they are formalities, with only two candidates running for two seats, making the outcome a foregone conclusion.
Voters in the Bethel school district will choose leaders just as the district navigates multiple lawsuits over policies on transgender students. Troy voters will elect the board that will either guide the construction of new schools or figure out how to make do with 100-year old buildings. Dayton will choose a school board to help tackle long-standing academic shortfalls, under a new superintendent to boot.
When you’re voting for school board members, you’re also choosing the people who will hire the next face of the district (the superintendent). Those choices are crucial, as recent years have seen some local superintendents quietly succeed, while others pleaded guilty to theft in office, or were forced out for levy campaign irregularities.
School tax levies
Those school board leaders also decide when to ask for more money. And there are plenty of school tax decisions on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The Centerville, Northmont, Oakwood, Vandalia-Butler and Milton-Union districts are asking for medium to large tax increases to fund day-to-day operating costs, where staff pay and benefits are the largest expense. The new tax requests range from 4.0 mills in Vandalia ($140 per year for a $100,000 home) to 7.62 mills in Milton-Union ($267 per $100K).
The Troy, Yellow Springs and Greeneview districts are are asking for approval of a different type of tax, to fund construction bonds to build new schools or additions. In Troy and Yellow Springs, voters have rejected similar recent requests for school construction money. These are also large levies, ranging from 5.44 mills (Greeneview) to 7.9 mills (Yellow Springs) and lasting 30-plus years.
There are smaller school levies with a big impact too. The Warren County Career Center (30 years, 0.84 mills) also would pay to expand its facilities, just after the Miami Valley and Greene County career centers did the same. Beavercreek and Waynesville schools have facility upkeep levies asking 1-2 mills, while Tipp City and Lebanon school voters will decide on simple renewal levies that would keep tax millage the same.
Other tax levies
Our taxes pay for all manner of services. On the Nov. 7 ballot alone, there are tax levies seeking funding for police, fire/EMS service, parks, roads, children services, disability services, and general day-to-day city operations.
Voters in Springboro and Huber Heights will decide whether to extend city income taxes at the same rate for another 10 years (Huber) or 20 years (Boro). The vast majority of renewal levies like these usually pass, but Huber Heights voters rejected a first crack at this request in May.
Clayton and Lebanon have complicated tax votes. If Clayton’s measure passes, the city income tax rate would rise from 1.5% to 2.5%, but residents would start getting full credit for taxes paid to other cities. Lebanon is seeking a 0.5% city income tax increase to pay for additional full-time firefighters. But if it passes, the current fire department property tax levy would be cut from 9 mills to 6 mills. In both cases, the change would make some residents pay more and others pay less.
Greene County has a busy slate, as Beavercreek residents will decide whether to pay an extra 1.93 mills of property tax, largely to develop a huge new city park, Xenia Twp. voters will decide on a 3.5-mill tax increase for roadwork and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek will weigh a very small tax increase for parks. The entire county will vote on three flat renewal levies, for children services, senior services and disability services.
Mayors, city councils, townships
Several local communities will elect mayors to lead their cities. Beavercreek and Fairborn are guaranteed to pick new faces as no incumbents are running. Meanwhile in Trotwood and Englewood, voters have to chose between “change equals growth” and “if it’s not broke don’t fix it,” as challengers are facing very long-established incumbents.
The five biggest cities in the region all have competitive city council races. In Dayton, candidates differ on paths of development and a “downtown vs. neighborhoods” focus. Beavercreek’s question always seems to be “to tax or not to tax” — usually regarding income, but this time about parks, too.
Fairborn’s council race has seen allegations of improper federal grants and recent criminal convictions. Huber Heights and Kettering only have races in certain geographic wards, as Huber tries to put recent council strife behind it, and Kettering bids farewell to two longtime councilmen.
Centerville, Xenia, Tipp City, Vandalia and Lebanon also have crowded council races, while one of area’s smallest villages — Harveysburg, home of the Renaissance Festival — will vote for council members at the same time it votes whether to disband and no longer exist.
A significant percentage of local residents live in townships, which sometimes face some slightly different issues from long-established cities — managing housing development, considering solar farms and debating the “rural character vs. rapid growth” decision. Each township, including Montgomery County’s large Washington Twp. and Miami Twp., will be electing one of its three trustees, plus a fiscal officer in this cycle.
Issue 1: Abortion
Issue 1 is a citizen-initiated amendment to the state constitution. If it passes, the right to an abortion would be enshrined in the Ohio Constitution.
The key sentence of the ballot measure is “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.”
The broadly worded language (“every individual” and “including but not limited to”) has led to debate about the potential amendment’s exact impact. Issue 1 opponents say the measure could undermine parental rights to control decisions for their children and allow later-term abortions. Issue 1 backers say it wouldn’t impact parental consent laws, and allows a ban on abortions after fetal viability.
The Issue 1 outcome will change the landscape, but given the strenuousness of disagreements between anti-abortion and abortion rights advocates, legal battles will continue regardless.
Issue 2: Marijuana
Issue 2 would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years old or older, legalize limited home cultivation of marijuana plants and regulate the industry.
Issue 2 deals with legalization but it doesn’t guarantee an Ohioan’s right to use marijuana in all circumstances. Employers can still enforce a drug-free workplace, and landlords can still maintain drug-free properties.
There’s also the question of timing, and whether the new law would last. While Issue 2 was also citizen-initiated, it would change regular state law (the Ohio Revised Code), not the state constitution.
Advocates for the issue have said, given the work needed to set up the regulatory system, public sales might not happen until summer 2024. Statehouse Republicans have already discussed possibly amending state law if it passes.