5 turn in petitions for Dayton mayor’s race, 7 for city commission

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley

Dayton’s mayor and commission races could have crowded fields because a dozen people filed petitions by the Friday afternoon deadline in the hopes of making the ballot.

Hopeful candidates include two current city commissioners, a former mayor, a retired firefighter, a former police officer, a labor leader, a faith leader, a former exotic dancer and community activists with city government experience.

Jeffrey Mims Jr., Gary Leitzell, Rennes Bowers, Larry Ealy and Keiana Davis hope to become the next mayor, according to petitions filed with the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Darryl Fairchild, Scott Sliver, Shenise-Turner Sloss, Jared Grandy, Stacey Benson-Taylor, Valerie Duncan and Jordan Wortham have filed in the hopes of vying for two open commission seats.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections offices. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The Montgomery County Board of Elections offices. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Filing a petition does not mean people will make the ballot.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections examines petitions to determine whether they contain at least 500 valid signatures from registered Dayton voters, which is the threshold for certification, said Sarah Greathouse, deputy director of the board of elections.

The board of elections has already reviewed and certified several petitions, and it plans to consider certification of the remaining petitions on Wednesday.

If all or even most of the petitions are certified, this could be the most crowded municipal races in a long time.

Some people also believe this could be a highly consequential election because the city faces significant challenges, like large revenue losses due to COVID-19, and its elected leaders may need to chart a path to recovery.

Ex-mayor Gary Leitzell submitted his petition back in December and it has already been certified.

Leitzell, an independent businessman, defeated incumbent Mayor Rhine McLin in 2009 in an upset victory.

He served one term and then lost reelection; Whaley became the next mayor.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims, retired Dayton firefighter Rennes Bowers, Larry Ealy and Keiana Davis also submitted mayor petitions, the board of elections said.

Mims, who is finishing his second term on the commission, previously was a longtime educator and served on the city and state school boards and was head of the teacher’s union.

Bowers, a conservative, was a firefighter for 30 years and retired in 2019 as district chief. He said faith is the “bedrock” of his life, and he is the chaplain for the Dayton Dragons and the Dayton Fire Department.

Ealy has a colorful past: He is a former male stripper and has run for Ohio governor multiple times, but only garnered a small share of the vote.

Keiana Davis is listed as a resident of St. Clair St. in downtown Dayton, according to information from the board of elections. This newspaper could not immediately reach her for comment.

The Montgomery County Board of Election. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
The Montgomery County Board of Election. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Mims’ and City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild’s seats are up for grabs this fall.

Fairchild, manager of chaplain services at Dayton Children’s Hospital, won a special election in 2018 to fill the vacancy created when Joey Williams unexpectedly stepped down.

After two unsuccessful bids for a commission seat, Fairchild in his last contest broke through and defeated a challenger who was endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party, which seldom sees its candidates lose in Dayton municipal races.

Shenise Turner-Sloss and Valerie Duncan filed their petitions in February and both had them certified earlier this month.

Both candidates have run for the commission before but did not prevail.

Turner-Sloss, a logistics management specialist for the federal government, also has worked in local government, including time with the city.

She has been involved in multiple community groups that advocate for more blight removal, increased neighborhood investment and other interests.

Duncan is a retired city of Dayton employee who was a zoning plans examiner and who also worked with the priority boards.

Jared Grandy, who filed his petition on Monday, is a local activist and the city’s former community-police relations coordinator.

Grandy quit last year, through a voluntary separation program, after he said he grew increasingly frustrated with police leadership’s unwillingness to make badly needed and community-recommended reforms.

Grandy has been an outspoken critic of the police department’s culture and policies and how law enforcement handled the racial justice protests last year in Dayton after the death of George Floyd.

Jordan Wortham, who served as a Dayton police officer from April 2013 to September 2019, had his petition certified last month.

Wortham was discharged from his employment for allegedly lying about yelling something out in front of two other officers while he was off duty.

He disputes the officers’ account and is appealing his termination in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

He has said he was forced out after complaining about racism in the police department.

Scott Sliver is running for the city commission again six years after his first attempt to win a seat came up short.

Sliver is the senior associate pastor at Vineyard Church and he’s the executive director of the Hope Foundation of Greater Dayton, a mobile food pantry. He also is a member of the Dayton Community Police Council and serves on one of the police reform committees.

Stacey Benson-Taylor, who is co-lead of the training police reform group, is the regional director of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, a labor union representing more than 3,000 public employees in the Dayton region.

Benson-Taylor also serves on the executive board of the Miami Valley AFL-CIO. This is her first foray into politics.

Mims, Sliver and Benson-Taylor filed their petitions together on Monday, each of which had more than 1,300 signatures.

Greathouse, deputy director of the board of elections, said the five mayoral hopefuls turned in more than 5,580 signatures and the commission candidates submitted more than 7,930.

If the petitions of at least three mayoral candidates or at least five commission candidates are certified, the city will have a special runoff election in May.