The Dayton City Commission election is less than a month away, and the race kicks into higher gear on Tuesday during a forum that will be streamed live on daytondailynews.com and whio.com, as well as on Facebook and the WHIO streaming app.
Two seats are up for grabs, and incumbents Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph face off against challengers Shenise Turner-Sloss and David Esrati, both of whom previously have run for commission seats.
Shaw, the owner of Shaw Cleaners, is seeking a second term, while Joseph, a logistician with Sierra Nevada Corp., is seeking a fifth and presently is the commission’s longest-serving member.
Esrati is a small-business owner and outspoken activist, while Turner-Sloss is a logistics management specialist for the federal government and former city of Dayton employee.
The candidates will take part in a forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the downtown Dayton Metro Library, which is being hosted by the Dayton Daily News, WHIO-TV and Radio, the Greater Dayton Area League of Women Voters, UpDayton and DATV.
The forum will be streamed live and moderated by News Center 7’s Jim Otte.
At other candidate events, Joseph has said he helped lead the city through a decade or more of tough times and he wants to continue to be a part of its ever-increasing revival.
He said the city has added jobs and revitalization is taking place in a variety of neighborhoods, which is partly attributable to strategic investments by city leadership.
“I absolutely want to be on board with the team that is shaping the next 50 years of the city’s history,” he said.
He said his experience means he understands organization and how to get things done, and he continues to get better at his job.
Shaw has said he is laser-focused on workforce development and training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities and connecting people with high-paying jobs available in the community.
Those connections do not happen on their own, according to Shaw, who said his business background provides the commission with a unique and valuable viewpoint.
Shaw said good things are happening in Dayton and will continue to happen with the right leaders who know how to leverage community assets to improve neighborhoods.
“If you reelect me, I am going to strengthen Dayton,” he said at a recent event.
Shaw and Joseph both have said they are proud of how the city responded to a series of crises this year. This year, the city had a massive water outage, federal authorities indicted a former city commissioner and city employee, a hate group held a rally downtown, tornadoes destroyed many properties, and a gunman killed nine people in the Oregon District.
Turner-Sloss, who was born and raised in Dayton, said her work history includes employment at the city as a community development specialist, which means she has a deep understanding of the inner workings of government.
Because of this, she said, “I know we have to do better than we are currently doing.”
Turner-Sloss said she has the passion, knowledge and practical experience to make city government more effective, transparent, responsive, accessible and accountable.
She said an African-American female has not been on the commission in far too long, and her new perspective, leadership and creativity are needed improve neighborhoods and the city.
Esrati says the incumbent city commissioners who promise to create jobs and make sweeping changes, such as new gun control regulations, are lying to the people.
He said city government cannot do these things, but if elected, he will bring creative solutions, like re-inventing how property taxes are set. He supports a “unified, lower, countywide” income tax.
He claims he would change Dayton’s economic development strategy, which he described as “pay to play”; he said it gives poor people’s tax dollars away to “rich” developers who compete with local businesses.
Esrati said he agrees there is a “culture of corruption” in Dayton-area politics, which was a phrase used by federal authorities when they unsealed indictments against former Commissioner Joey Williams and city employee RoShawn Winburn.
“The system is rigged — we have to unrig it,” Esrati said.
Esrati also has proposed eliminating fares to make riding the Greater Dayton RTA buses free, though the city does not control the agency.
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