Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell said Wednesday that he plans to run for Montgomery County Commission in 2014 after his mayoral term ends.
Leitzell lost the May runoff vote to Nan Whaley and A.J. Wagner, so he will not be on the November 2013 city ballot. Only one of the three county commission seats will be on the ballot in 2014 — the one currently held by Dan Foley.
Hours after losing the May runoff vote for mayor, Leitzell said he was unfazed, adding that he thought he’d have more power as a private citizen. Asked why he’s throwing himself back into the political fray, Leitzell said, “So many people just keep saying, ‘Stay involved, be involved.’ I guess they like what I’ve been able to accomplish in the last 3½ years.”
Leitzell said his goal is never just to win an election, but to change the system. During this spring’s Dayton campaign, Leitzell joined forces with two discontented Democrats running for city commission as independents — David Esrati and David K. Greer.
They argued that having a three-independent majority on what has long been a Democrat-controlled city commission would allow them to make needed changes to the city charter. Esrati and Greer advanced to the November ballot, where they’ll face endorsed Democrats Joey Williams and Jeff Mims.
“This gives me an excuse to campaign for the other independent candidates this summer,” Leitzell said. “I felt so bad not being able to help Greer and Esrati. … If I need to collect 3,000 signatures (for county office), I’ve got to go knocking on doors, and at the same time I can pass out their literature.”
The county commission races are partisan elections, and while Democrat and Republican candidates only have to get 50 signatures from their party to run, Leitzell, as a “non-party candidate,” needs 1,852 signatures — 10 percent of the countywide turnout from the last election for governor.
On Monday, Leitzell picked up his petitions from the Montgomery County Board of Elections to get those signatures.
Leitzell said he has an understanding of countywide issues after meeting with county leaders every month for the past three years. And he said he has supporters in the suburbs.
“So many people from outside city have said, ‘I’d have voted for you if I could,’ ” Leitzell said. “People like that I have this independent mind-set and I don’t play games. I say here’s a problem, we have to solve it, here’s what we do. Instead of we’re going to solve it the Republican way or Democrat way. That doesn’t help, because you cause controversy.”