Maggie McNight independent living facility in Xenia is one of the elderly units owned by the Greene County Metropolitan Housing Authority. (Contributed)

Greene County picks former commissioner over former mayor for board

Greene County commissioners appointed an ex-commissioner to serve on the county’s housing authority board instead of the former Xenia mayor who has served on the board for three decades.

Alan Anderson, who lost his bid to retain his commission seat to Commissioner Dick Gould, has been appointed to serve on the Greene County Metropolitan Housing Authority board. The move ousted the other applicant for the job, former Xenia Mayor Marsha Bayless, who had served on the board since 1984, according to county records.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the appointment without discussion at the board’s last meeting.

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“Commissioners spoke highly of Ms. Bayless and her years of service, but thought a change might be good,” reads the minutes of the commission’s discussion on the topic at the Jan. 3 meeting.

Bayless said she wasn’t surprised by the commission’s appointment because they are familiar with Anderson.

“I thought my qualifications certainly would allow me to continue to serve on the board,” Bayless said.

Anderson said he applied for the position and was not aware that Bayless was seeking reappointment. He said he hopes to contribute his knowledge of local governments while drawing on his background as a lawyer and a landlord.

“I have a lot of understanding of how local governments work, and I’m not quite ready to walk away from it,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he does not currently have any tenants using Section 8 assistance, but he’s seen first-hand how the program can benefit people as he’s represented clients who have been helped by the housing authority.

Susan Lopez, the Democratic candidate who lost the election to Gould, said the commission’s decision doesn’t make sense.

“That the commissioners would replace someone on the board who has shown diligence, knowledge and representation that is irreplaceable confounds me,” Lopez said. “Many boards in Greene County lack representation of its population. Bayless happens to be a woman and a person of color, and that is lacking on many county boards.”

The other housing authority board members are Cecil Brown, Nancy Hadley and Gerry Coen. Board members are appointed by the county commission, plus by the probate and common pleas courts and the mayor of Beavercreek, according to the GMHA website.

The housing authority board voted last month to make Bayless the board’s chairperson, a position she declined to serve in during her eight years as Xenia’s mayor. Bayless said she’s concerned now that the city is not represented on the board.

“The housing authority is in Xenia itself. There are more housing developments in Xenia than in other communities,” she said. “I think Xenia should be represented, of course.”

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The housing authority, which owns 361 public housing units in five communities, receives federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The organization provides assistance to low-income people who need assistance and a place to live. They also keep track of the number of homeless people in the county.

GCHA board members serve on a voluntary basis and do not receive compensation.

Executive Director Brenda Smallwood said the GCHA board “provides leadership and also provides oversight to the housing authority. They also must participate in our monthly board meetings.”

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