In Clayton, Ward 1 is the only City Council race with competition, pitting incumbent Dennis Lieberman vs. challenger Ryan Farmer. In Ward 2, Kenneth Henning is running unopposed, and in Ward 3, James Gorman is running unopposed. Mayor Mike Stevens’ term doesn’t expire for another two years.
Nearby Union has no contested races — Robert Bennett, John Bruns and Lynne Thomas-Roth are the only candidates for three council seats, and Mike O’Callaghan is the only candidate for mayor.
All four candidates in the contested races answered a series of questions for the Dayton Daily News in their own words via our Voter Guide. The details below come from those answers. The full text they provided is available at www.daytondailynews.com/voter-guide.
Englewood Mayor - Franz
Incumbent Mayor Tom Franz Jr. said his top priority is to continue the “excellent” way the city is being run under city manager Eric Smith. “Council hires a professional manager to run the city on a daily basis,” Franz said. “Hire a good one, we have, stand back and allow him to do the job.”
Franz argued Englewood offers “the very best” in police, fire/EMS, water and street services despite adding “no new taxes since 1978″ except for a citizen-approved fire/ EMS service plan.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Franz said.
Franz said he’s retired after serving as associate director of environmental services at Miami Valley Hospital. He’s been a councilman, vice mayor or mayor for 32 years and a religious education teacher at St. Paul’s Catholic Church for 35 years.
“The voters of Englewood should re-elect me because of my track record of putting the entire city in my decision-making process,” Franz said. “I continue to make choices based on what is best for the entire city, not focus on a special group or particular area.”
Englewood Mayor - McGrail
City Council member Cathy McGrail says her top priorities if elected mayor would be to complete a Strategic Plan, improve community involvement, and continue collaborative success, such as mutual aid service among surrounding communities.
“I initiated the discussion with Council for a Strategic Plan and why Englewood should update the outdated and unused land use plan,” McGrail said. “I am involved and invested in community activities and will continue to provide support.”
McGrail described herself as a “30-year business owner” running a realty firm and said in addition to her city council role, she is a past president of the Northmont Chamber of Commerce and has been a member of St. Paul’s Parish Council.
“I am for the future of Englewood with a hands-on approach,” she said. “My focus is on citizen input and working with council and the city manager to implement tangible ideas into beneficial results.”
Clayton Council - Lieberman
Incumbent Dennis Lieberman said financial security is a top priority for the city, saying in the face of flat revenues and rising costs, Clayton “must increase our population with young families, which means more revenue for our city.”
Lieberman said that population increase would also attract more stores, restaurants and entertainment. Meanwhile the city should continue to improve its parks and address aging infrastructure (water, sewer, roads), he said.
“There is a housing shortage in Montgomery County, and Clayton has an opportunity to welcome new members to our Northmont community,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman is a senior partner at the Flanagan, Lieberman and Rambo law firm and an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton School of Law. He said he’s also been involved in local youth sports organizations.
He cited successes from his 10 years on council — the city being rated very safe, the fire collaborative with Union and Englewood, plus updates to parks. He said many Clayton citizens’ septic tanks and wells will one day need to be replaced, and he will continue to explore ways to aid citizens in obtaining water and sewage.
“Development often brings protests and pressure on council,” Lieberman said. “However, Clayton must develop as a city. Clayton must be financially secure to address the myriad of problems that face us in the decades to come.”
Clayton Council - Farmer
Ryan Farmer said his priorities are “smart growth” following city planning standards, engaging and involving citizens in city affairs to create more accountability, and providing transparency and follow-up on citizens’ concerns. He said he’s from a rural part of Clayton, which would promote a balanced council.
Farmer said he would hope to encourage community involvement to increase voter awareness. He wants to connect voters to the city’s planning commission, and the existing “Plan Clayton” comprehensive land-use plan. But he also wants to revisit past ideas (via reports and studies) to find new opportunities.
Farmer is an Air Force civilian at Wright-Patt, and a retired Air Force Colonel, a role that he said trained him in making big-picture decisions. He said he’s seeking office to make sure community members’ concerns are addressed.
“I’ve watched hundreds of citizens make a clear statement of concern to city leadership, only to see it dismissed without proper explanation,” he said.
Farmer initiated a referendum that will appear on the March 2024 ballot for Clayton residents, challenging a “Salem Springs” plan to develop 43 acres of land south of Phillipsburg-Union Road.
“Clayton is at a critical juncture in its growth, this election will impact the city’s near-term direction,” Farmer said. “(Via referendum) I have already shown a passion and follow through to support the unheard of Clayton.”