Voters across the Dayton region head to the polls today to decide on school levies, tax issues and a few races.
There are 50 issues and races on the ballot across the region today, including school tax issues in Kettering, Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Oakwood, Tipp City, Piqua, Lebanon, Valley View and Tri-County North.
Not every community has elections today.
Check out our online interactive voters guide at vote.daytondailynews.com to compare the candidates on the issues that matter to you and learn more about the issues on your ballot.
Here’s the top races and issues to watch Tuesday night:
1. School levies
Seven local school districts are asking for levies or bonds that would increase taxes and raise more money for the schools. In Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Lebanon and Valley View, the levies would pay for day-to-day operating costs. In Tipp City and Piqua, the money would go toward building/facility costs. In Oakwood, it would be a mix of both.
Ohio’s school funding model is up for review again in the ongoing state budget debate, and some districts get more from the state than others. In wealthier districts, more of the funding responsibility falls to local taxpayers. That leads to passionate battles between two sides — school backers who want money to recruit the best teachers and offer the highest-level programs, pitted against neighbors who say they’ve simply been tapped out by tax increases and can’t afford any more.
“That is probably the most discouraging thing about the reliance on local property taxes that face school districts,” Lebanon Superintendent Todd Yohey said. “Any time you need an increase in revenue, you are automatically creating something that divides your community. It’s certainly not something you want to do or enjoy doing.”
Many of the levies have interesting angles. Oakwood’s combination levy includes a 2.71-mill bond issue that would pay for upgrades to their 90-year-old school buildings, after several spirited public meetings on the topic last year. Beavercreek actually has two school levies on the ballot (one is a simple renewal), six months after voters rejected a levy by a tiny margin.
Bellbrook-Sugarcreek’s levy has been the source of an intense social media battle between levy backers and a resident running a “vote no” campaign. Piqua’s levy would increase taxes for facility improvements, but district leaders say they’re pairing it with early payoff of a previous bond, offsetting the new cost.
And Tipp City’s bond issue for construction of extra classroom space hit an odd bump last week when state officials warned that some state funding could be at risk if the district’s plan for that space doesn’t match original proposals.
DID YOU KNOW THERE’S AN ELECTION MAY 7?: Find out what’s on your ballot in our voters guide
2. Dayton City Commission race
Five candidates are running and the top four after today’s election will face off again in November for two Dayton commission seats.
Current Commissioner Matt Joseph is running for his fifth term. Commissioner Chris Shaw is running for his second. Both have been endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party.
They face challengers Valerie Duncan, David Esrati and Shenise Turner-Sloss.
The commission race comes in the shadow of last week’s arrests of former Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams and city employee RoShawn Winburn as part of a federal corruption probe.
“If it doesn’t impact the city commission races, there’s something very wrong,” said Esrati.
While Joseph believes the federal indictments will be on the mind of some voters when they head to the ballot box, he hopes voters haven’t lost faith in him.
“I hope people know that I fight for them, I’ve been around for a while and I try to do the right thing,” he said.
Turner-Sloss said one of the biggest issues facing Dayton is the lack of thriving businesses in the neighborhoods.
Shaw agreed saying the “economic recovery has still not reached many neighborhoods.”
Duncan said when she went out talking to voters before today’s election, she heard a lot of concerns about issues ranging from housing, water safety and the lack of grocery stores and neighborhood businesses.
Joseph says the two biggest issues facing the city are access to higher-paying job opportunities and inequality.
“As a city we need to work towards a future in which all citizens not only have the same access to the American Dream, but also have a fair shot at achieving it,” Joseph said.
Esrati says that as a region, Dayton has too many governments. “Duplication of services is putting the region at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.
He also said strengthening property values is key for the city.
“No one should see the property value of their home go down, or stagnate because of a lack of faith in the future of their neighborhood,” he said.
All five candidates talked about issues such as crime, the city’s economy, fighting the opioid crisis, building up downtown, etc. in our interactive voters guide. You can compare their answers at vote.daytondailynews.com
3. Washington Twp. fire/EMS levy
The new Washington Twp. fire chief said the new levy will prevent a deficit in coming years, help add firefighters and allow for a new fire station to be built.
Fire Chief Scott Kujawa said the 2.85-mill continuous levy, if approved, would generate about $5.26 million in the first year. Homeowners would pay $99.75 per year for every $100,000 of their home’s value — equivalent to $8.31 per month.
“This is new millage,” he said. “All residents in Washington Twp. and Centerville are eligible to vote on the levy.”
The fire department currently is funded with one 4.65-mill renewal levy and one 1.5-mill continuous levy that together cost $169 annually for every $100,000 of home value.
Two of the main issues regarding the levy, according to Kujawa, are staffing and construction of a fire station.
4. Troy to get new mayor
Two experienced Troy City Council members are facing off in the race for the mayor’s office.
Tom Kendall and Robin Oda are Republican candidates on the ballot. No Democrat filed for the position that now is held by Mike Beamish, who is retiring at year’s end after 16 years in the mayor’s chair.
Kendall, a Troy native, is in his 14th year as a member of council, representing the 1st Ward. Oda, a city resident 22 years, is in her eighth year as an at-large council member.
5. Cities try to pass income taxes
Moraine, Union, Urbana, Versailles and Sidney have income tax issues on the ballot today.
In Union, city leaders are seeking 1% income tax increase. Urbana voters also face an income tax request for 0.6% for operating and capital improvements for public safety.
In Sidney, leaders want voters to approve a 0.3% increase to the current 1.5% income tax. The additional money would be split between road maintenance and fire department operations.
Voters in Moraine will decide whether or not to continue with a current 0.5% income tax. In Darke County, Versailles voters will decide on continuing a 0.5% income tax to fix roads and sewer systems.
YOUR SOURCE FOR TODAY’S ELECTION
Learn more about the candidates and tax issues on the ballot in our interactive voters guide. Go to vote.daytondailynews.com
Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. at your polling place. You can find out where you vote here.
Go to DaytonDailyNews.com starting at 7:30 Tuesday night for live election results.
SPECIAL RADIO SHOW
Hear special Election Day coverage throughout the day today on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO, including a special election night show from 7 to 9 p.m. You can also stream it live here.
SPECIAL EPAPER FOR SUBSCRIBERS
After the results are counted, look for a special edition of your e-paper with stories and results.