Local voters will decide Tuesday who writes Ohio law for the next two years, who approves multimillion-dollar county budgets for the next four years, and whether local agencies should get more tax money to run their schools, pave their streets and hire police.
Party control of U.S. Congress has been the headline issue this election cycle, but county and state races, along with local tax levies, will have immediate impact on residents’ lives as well. Here are some of the highlights.
VOTERS GUIDE: Compare Smith, Foley on key topics
Beavercreek and Kettering schools, along with the Greene County Career Center, are the school districts asking for levies that would increase taxes. Several others — Franklin, Bethel, Greenon, Brookville, Troy, Tipp City, Newton and Twin Valley — have levies that would not increase tax burdens on residents.
** Kettering is asking for a tax levy a year earlier than they had told voters, citing increased costs in several areas, plus a desire to expand career-tech education, increase security, and add all-day kindergarten for the first time. The permanent 5.99-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $209 annually.
** Beavercreek school leaders say special education costs and other mandates have them projecting a negative cash balance by late spring 2021, so they’re asking for a five-year, 6.2-mill levy that would cost $217 annually per $100,000 of property value.
** The Greene CCC seeks a bond levy to construct a bigger, $62 million school at U.S. 35 and U.S. 68 in Xenia, replacing the current Enon Road campus. The goal is to add more aerospace-related training to align with employers’ needs. The bond issue is 1.03 mills for 20 years, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $36.05 per year.
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All 99 Ohio House of Representatives seats are on the ballot, along with 17 of 33 state Senate posts, meaning state law on everything from abortion and opioid policy to school funding and traffic cameras is in play.
Eleven House districts reach within 20 miles of downtown Dayton. District 43, covering Preble County and chunks of western Montgomery County, is one of the few that’s not usually a landslide to one party or the other.
** Longtime Democratic county commissioner Dan Foley is running for that seat against Republican J. Todd Smith, a minister who was just appointed to the job in July after the House broke for its summer/fall recess. Foley said the state must fund public schools better and create a better “workforce talent pipeline” to attract employers. Smith said Ohio needs to make college more affordable, and said he’ll work on a “comprehensive solution” to the drug crisis.
** Elsewhere, longtime Republican county sheriff Phil Plummer is running against Democrat Ryan Taylor, a Wright State lecturer, as both seek to replace term-limited state Rep. Mike Henne in District 40. In Greene County, incumbent Rick Perales faces Kim McCarthy after Perales won a bizarre primary. And Dayton school board vice president John McManus is challenging incumbent Jim Butler in the district that includes Oakwood, Kettering and Centerville.
VOTERS GUIDE: Bradley, Huffman run for state senate
** The most competitive state Senate race in recent local elections has been District 5, which encompasses Miami, Preble, southern Darke and west-central Montgomery County. State Rep. Steve Huffman, a Republican physician from Miami County, is leaving the Ohio House to run for that District 5 Senate seat. His opponent is Democrat Paul Bradley, an administrator for Antioch University.
Huffman argues state taxes are too high and need to be reduced, and said he wants to “free the private sector of burdensome regulations.” Bradley focused on the other side of the economic equation, calling for “economic climate that provides good-paying jobs,” and said the state is due for a minimum wage increase.
** The other state senate race is District 7 in Warren County, where appointed Republican incumbent Steve Wilson faces Democrat Sara Bitter.
Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties each have contested races for one of their three commission seats – the people who decide county budgets, and oversee courts, jails, economic development and social services delivery.
** In Montgomery County, Democratic county auditor Carolyn Rice and Republican business owner Doug Barry are fighting for the commission seat to be vacated by Dan Foley.
VOTERS GUIDE: Barry, Rice give in-depth answers on issues
Barry called the opioid crisis the biggest issue facing the county (with Dayton schools second). He said dealers need to be locked up, addicts need recovery support, not jail, and kids need to be taught about the risks of opioid use. Rice said commissioners need to make smart budget choices in the face of cuts and fight to restore state funding. She called for increased vocational education to meet workforce needs, and better opioid recovery services.
** In Greene County, Democrat Susan Lopez, director of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Family Resource Center, and Republican Dick Gould, the current Greene County treasurer, are running for a commission seat.
VOTERS GUIDE: Lopez, Gould spar on qualifications, priorities
Gould said the county needs to eliminate waste and duplicated services, including some in opioid treatment, to create effective services, and it must market its assets to attract quality businesses. Lopez said transparency and protection from annexation are key issues, while spending must be analyzed to serve the whole community, as multimillion-dollar jail and infrastructure projects are on tap.
** In Preble County, incumbent Republican Rodney Creech is running against Libertarian Eric White.
** Five Rivers MetroParks is asking Montgomery County voters to approve a replacement and additional levy that would cost an extra $17 per year for a $100,000 home and generate $2 million more per year. MetroParks officials say because of increased costs, the levy would merely allow the agency to “keep doing what we have and maintain the system we’ve built.”
** Moraine is asking voters to make the last 0.5 percent of the existing 2.5 percent city income tax permanent. The ballot language calls the levy an “additional” tax, but the rate will stay at 2.5 percent, according to city manager Bryan Chodkowski. That’s because the city is letting the existing five-year, 0.5-mill portion expire, to be replaced by the new, permanent measure.
** Fourteen cities, villages and townships are seeking tax levy increases — including four for police funding, four for roads/bridges and three for fire/EMS. The two largest new levies are both road/bridge levies, as Xenia is asking 3.5 mills, and Riverside is seeking 8 mills. Dozens of other jurisdictions are seeking renewal levies that keep tax rates flat, including four countywide social service levies in Greene County.
Marijuana in Dayton
In an “advisory” election, Dayton voters will tell city leaders whether they think some misdemeanor marijuana offenses should be decriminalized by the city. City commission will consider those results later in deciding whether to change city law.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she favors decriminalizing possession of small quantities of marijuana. That could eliminate the city’s current $150 fine for possession of 100 grams or less. Possession of larger amounts can currently lead to jail time.
A city decision to decriminalize would not change the fact that recreational use of marijuana is illegal under state law, with possession of 200 grams or more constituting a felony.
** Incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Turner faces Democrat Theresa Gasper and Libertarian David Harlow in the 10th district race, which includes all of Montgomery and Greene counties.
Turner, a former mayor of Dayton, has spent the past 16 years in Congress, frequently touting his efforts to protect and grow Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s operations. Gasper, who owns a firm that buys and renovates foreclosed homes, said she will focus on raising wages and lowering health care costs, citing a need to “even the playing field between corporations and workers.”
VOTERS GUIDE: Compare Turner, Gasper on more than a dozen issues
** Warren County voters will decide between Republican Steve Chabot, who has been in Congress all but two years since 1995, and Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval, Hamilton County’s Clerk of Courts, in District 1.
Chabot says he supports entrepreneur-friendly policies, recent tax code changes and increased defense spending, but he also wants to reduce the national debt. Pureval said his priorities are affordable health care, protecting social security and Medicare, and ending “gridlock and dysfunction” in Washington.
VOTERS GUIDE: Pureval, Chabot explain policy positions
** In districts that vote overwhelmingly Republican, incumbent Jim Jordan faces Democratic challenger Janet Garrett in District 4, and Warren Davidson faces Democratic challenger Vanessa Enoch in District 8.
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