Voters Guide: Rice vs. Wortham for Montgomery County Commissioner

All candidates for local and state office were sent the same series of questions by the Dayton Daily News. Our goal was to help voters make informed choices in the Nov. 8 election (early voting for which began Oct. 12).

The race for Montgomery County Commissioner is between incumbent Democrat Carolyn Rice and Republican challenger Jordan Wortham. The candidates’ answers are below, in their own words. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Carolyn Rice

Residence: Centerville

Organizations, boards, previous elected positions: Montgomery County Treasurer 2007-2018; Montgomery County Land Bank Chair of Board of Directors since its inception in 2001; Montgomery County- Investment Advisory Committee, Homeless Solutions Policy Board, Criminal Justice Council, Planning Commission, Emergency Management Committees; Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Board; Downtown Dayton Special Improvement District Board Treasurer; Greater Dayton Conservation Fund Board; Montgomery County Dolly Parton Imagination Library Steering Committee; Montgomery County Education Service Center Business Advisory Council; Dayton Council on World Affairs Board; Dayton Rotary Peace Committee Chair; Dayton Sister City Committee Holon, Israel Co-Chair; College Promise Mentor; City of Dayton Eviction Task Force; Leadership Ohio 2021 Cohort; County Commission Association of Ohio (CCAO)- Human Services Committee Vice Chair, Investment Committee, Justice and Public Safety Committee, Metropolitan and Regional Affairs Committee; National Association of Counties (NACo)- Large Urban County Caucus, International Economic Development Task Force, Healthy Counties Advisory Board, Resilient Counties Advisory Board, Justice & Public Safety Committee; Prenatal -3 Academy; member of Ohio’s statewide advisory board for the expansion of Infant Toddler Courts.

Education: MBA-Wright State University, BS in Education-Miami University

Current employment: Montgomery County Commissioner since January 1, 2019

Why are you seeking elected office: Montgomery County needs leadership for the future that puts our families, workers, and children first. I’m running for reelection to continue to develop creative solutions and ensure our county is prepared for a bright and prosperous future. My top priority is helping Montgomery County citizens succeed. We must allocate resources to meet as many needs as possible while remaining mindful stewards of taxpayer dollars. Children must be prepared to succeed in school. Citizens of all ages must learn new skills to prepare for tomorrow’s jobs. People struggling with mental illness and addiction must receive treatment. Support service, food, and housing must be accessible to those in need. Millions must be invested to ready our infrastructure for future generations. We must take the right steps to protect the environment and pursue sustainability. I am excited to meet the challenges that lie ahead and will work tirelessly to build a better future for our citizens.

Why should voters elect you: The various jobs I have held and the experiences I have had throughout my life and career have prepared me well to be an effective County Commissioner. Before entering public service, I worked in the fields of education, the environment, and private sector business. I am active in the community and have a proven track record of being a leader who tackles major problems by rolling up my sleeves, thoroughly exploring an issue, and collaborating with others to create new, effective solutions. One such example is the Montgomery County Land Bank. When I was County Treasurer, I founded the Land Bank and led it through the start-up years. Since becoming County Commissioner, I have remained Chair of the Land Bank Board. Over the past eleven years, the Land Bank has invested more than $50 million in demolishing blighted properties, stabilizing neighborhoods, and increasing the safety of communities. Voters should vote for me because I have the experience, leadership skills, perspective, and passion to effectively address the variety of issues the county will face in the coming years.

Credit: HUE12, LLC

Credit: HUE12, LLC

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Jobs, jobs, jobs—including workforce, economic development, and education; Housing and Homelessness; Mental Health and Addiction Prevention & Recovery

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Jobs Jobs, Jobs: Montgomery County has long been known for its innovative programs in workforce and economic development. More than 20 years ago, we created our Jobs Center that brought together all types of services to help our citizens find and qualify for better paying jobs as well as social services they need. When our county was hit by 14 tornadoes in May 2019, we took this idea a step further and purchased a mobile van equipped to be a “Jobs Center on Wheels” bringing these same services directly to our citizens where they are. Workforce development begins at birth—young children who get off to a great start and are prepared to enter kindergarten are more likely to succeed in school and beyond. We also focus on expanding our YouthWorks program that gives high school students the opportunity to be interns and gain real work experience. We urge young adults as well as adults of all ages to expand their skills through apprenticeships, certification programs, and training to qualify them for better paying jobs in the future.

Housing and Homelessness: I will continue to serve on the Land Bank board, the Eviction Task Force, and Homeless Solutions Policy Board to address these important issues.

Mental Health and Addiction Prevention & Recovery: Mental health care is in short supply in our schools, our justice system, and in our general population. The stigma associated with mental health and addiction needs to change.

Anything else you would like voters to know? Experience matters. Leadership matters. Serving as a Montgomery County Commissioner is the honor and privilege of my life. Serving in this important role gives me the opportunity to help so many people in my community in so many ways and make a difference that really matters. Our county has faced extraordinary challenges during my first term in office—a major water outage, a KKK rally, fourteen tornadoes in a single night, a mass shooting, and then the Covid-19 pandemic. I am so proud of how our community came together to face these challenges and move forward. When we work together, we can accomplish so much.


Jordan Wortham

Residence: Dayton

Organizations, boards, previous elected positions: none

Education: Bachelor Degree of Communication; University of Cincinnati, Chaminade Julienne High School

Current employment: Security Equity Investor and Trader

Why are you seeking elected office: I want to change status quo. We have too many career politicians consumed with re-election, special interests, and political parties. The three Montgomery County Commission seats have been comprised of all endorsed Democrats for several decades. However, this is not a true reflection of the county. One party controlled institutions lead to the lack of transparency, accountability, and checks and balances.

Why should voters elect you: The average age on the board is 70, I am 33. I will bring a refreshing approach and high energy to the board. I have different passion, vision, and willingness to adapt to new things in comparison to the current Democrat board members. If you are tired with status quo, vote for something new. Voting the same and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I’m a born fighter, I fought in the street as a Dayton Police Officer and I am ready to fight the system within public office.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities? Eliminating bureaucratic red tape, business development, and making the county government more effective

What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? Attract entrepreneurs and business investment by eliminating overly cumbersome regulations and minimizing taxation. Change outdated policies that burden the system and people. Make technological upgrades that will reduce lag time and unnecessary hurdles for government workers and people.

Anything else you would like voters to know? I was raised to be brave. I battled in the street as a Dayton Police Officer for nearly a decade. I never made a career in politics. I made an enormous success in business and law enforcement. I will bring the same success and fearlessness to this board.