Mims wins big in Dayton mayor race: ‘I’m just beyond words’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Two-term Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr. will be Dayton’s next mayor after easily besting challenger and political newcomer Rennes Bowers on Tuesday, according to unofficial final results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Mims finished with about 67% of the vote, compared to 33% for Bowers, the results show.

“I’m just beyond words,” Mims said Tuesday night. “It’s very special that the people of Dayton have demonstrated faith and confidence in me.”

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Dayton Mayoral candidate, Jeffery Mims Jr. with Commissioner Matt Joseph. Jim Noelker/Staff
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Dayton Mayoral candidate, Jeffery Mims Jr. with Commissioner Matt Joseph. Jim Noelker/Staff

Mims, 74, is a former educator and previously has served as the president of the Dayton school board and teachers union.

He was first elected to the commission in 2013 and was endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Mims on Tuesday night said he’s very excited about continuing to serve the city.

He said he wants to find ways for the city to better communicate with residents and share the progress it is making.

On the campaign trail, Mims said the city certainly has challenges but it is headed in the right direction and the revitalization is spreading to its neighborhoods.

Bowers, 72, is a 30-year veteran of the Dayton Fire Department who retired as a district chief.

Bowers, a political newcomer, described himself as a “biblical conservative” and he often was critical of the level of service in the city and raised concerns about crime and public safety.

Rennes Bowers is running for Dayton Mayor. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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Rennes Bowers is running for Dayton Mayor. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Mims will lead a city of about 137,645 residents and a government organization with nearly 1,800 employees and a general fund budget of about $186 million.

Mims and Bowers both said that the city needs strong leadership because it faces some significant difficulties and big decisions.

Dayton is at risk of losing millions of dollars in annual revenue because of a shift to remote working, and the city is working on its plan for the $138 million it is receiving in federal rescue funds. The mayor will have to help chart a path for Dayton to recover from the pandemic.

In addition to financial uncertainty, the city also is working through police reforms, and a new police chief starts next month to replace Richard Biehl, who led the department for 13 years.

Mims will be the city’s first new mayor since 2013. He replaces Nan Whaley, who left her own mark on the office and who is now running for governor.

The city commission will get one new member next year, since Commissioner Darryl Fairchild won reelection on Tuesday. Shenise Turner-Sloss won the other open commission seat.

Bowers likely faced an uphill battle, as many conservative candidates do in Dayton municipal races.

Dayton has more than four times as many voters who are registered Democrats than voters who are registered Republican, and all four city commission candidates were Democrats.

However, about 87% of Dayton’s 86,366 registered voters are unclassified (not registered as Democrat or Republican).

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