5 make ballot for Dayton City Commission race in May, 2 rejected

Incumbents Shaw and Joseph will face Wortham, Bedinger and Duncan; Board did not approve petitions from Esrati, Love

Five of the seven people who filed to run for two Dayton City Commission seats had their petitions certified by the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Tuesday, which means there will be a special runoff election on May 2.

Incumbent Commissioners Matt Joseph and Chris Shaw are running for re-election and will face Jordan Wortham, Marcus Bedinger and Valerie Duncan in the runoff election. The top four vote-getters will advance to the November election.

Jo Love and David Esrati submitted petitions to join the commission races, but the Board of Elections voted to invalidate their submissions on the grounds that they did not obtain enough valid signatures.

Love and Esrati said they plan to ask the board for reconsideration.

“If the board wishes to have a reconsideration meeting/hearing, we would set that up,” said Jeff Rezabek, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Commissioner Shaw is seeking a third term in office, while Joseph hopes to be elected to the commission for a sixth time.

Shaw is a the owner of a dry cleaning and laundry business in West Dayton, while Joseph works as a principal logistics engineer for the Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Shaw and Joseph both were endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Wortham is a former Dayton police officer and a security equity investor and trader who last year narrowly lost a race for a seat on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.

Wortham, who ran as a Republican in the county race, also vied to join the city commission in 2021, but he came in second-to-last place in the runoff election, which means his name did not appear on the November ballot.

Bedinger, who grew up in Trotwood, lived in New York and worked as a constituent liaison and community representative for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, often referred to as AOC.

Bedinger moved back to Dayton with his family during the pandemic and he now works as the manager of a retail store.

Duncan is a former city and county employee who has run for the commission twice before but did not prevail. Duncan, who serves on Dayton’s board of housing appeals, has spoken out about a variety of issues at public meetings.

Love submitted more than 900 signatures, but the board of elections was only able to verify 459 of those, which means she is 41 short of a requirement spelled out in Dayton’s city charter, said Rezabek.

Dayton City Commission candidates need to turn in petitions with at least 500 valid signatures of registered electors in the city to make it on the ballot.

About 195 of the signatures Love obtained belong to people who live outside of Dayton, while 177 belong to people who are not registered voters, Rezabek said. Love is the creative director of a music and video production studio.

It’s possible that some of the people who signed her petitions now live in Dayton, but for the signatures to be valid, the signers would have needed to update their addresses by the time the petitions were submitted, Rezabek said.

Some of signatures on Love’s petitions and Esrati’s belong to people who already signed at least two other candidates’ petitions, Rezabek said.

Dayton residents are only allowed to sign two city commission candidates’ petitions, and if they sign a third or additional petitions after that, then the signatures do not count as valid, said Rhine McLin, chairperson of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Esrati, a business owner and blogger, turned in about 550 signatures, but he is 18 valid signatures short of the certification requirement, Rezabek said. Rezabek said he had 38 duplicate signatures.

During the board meeting Tuesday, Esrati said it’s absurd that he needs only 50 signatures to run for Congress but must get 10 times as many to run for the city commission.

Erik Blaine, one of the four voting members of the Board of Elections, said he encourages the city of Dayton to update its petition forms and reduce the signature requirements for city commission candidates.

“Five hundred signatures does seem to be onerous,” he said.

Also on the May 2 ballot

The only other Montgomery County candidate race on the May 2 special election ballot will be a Miamisburg Municipal Court judge primary match between Alyse Rettich and Joshua Liles.

Other 2023 candidates who had to file petitions this winter — including those running for Huber Heights council and Miamisburg mayor and council — will advance to the November election, because there were not enough candidates to force runoff elections this spring, according to Board of Elections officials.

Counting three issues that overlap from neighboring counties, there are 27 issues that will be on the ballot in Montgomery County communities — 15 tax levies, five utility aggregation measures and seven local option votes on liquor permits.

The largest tax levies are for the Vandalia-Butler, Huber Heights, Northmont and Mad River school districts.

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