Maverick challenges Kettering mayor

Don Patterson is seeking a third term as Kettering’s mayor.

“You do it because you believe you can can make things better for this community by using your skills. I continue to think I can make a difference,” he said.

Michael Barnett, who has never held public office, is hoping to unseat him.

“I would be the people’s mayor. I would decide for the people. I would not be a puppet for the city. I want to protect the people’s rights,” the challenger said.

Patterson, 59, a principal in the commercial real estate firm NAI Dayton, served on Kettering City Council beginning in 1998 before being elected mayor in 2005.

Barnett, 65, is a retired former General Motors employee who decided to seek office after he said he was treated unfairly by the City of Kettering when he attempted to build a second garage to house his collection of Chevrolet Corvettes.

He bought his first in 1982 and owns “about a half-million dollars worth of Corvettes. I saved my money, never got married and didn’t have any kids,” Barnett said.

He said the city turned down his permit because the square footage of the garages would be larger than his home, a 1,278-square-foot brick ranch.

“I believe the code would have allowed that at the time, but it has been changed since,” he said.

His home is across Wilmington from a chiropractor’s office and an auto mechanic business.

Patterson said his focus as mayor remains economic development. “I’m all about talking to businesses, keeping them and growing them. That’s my passion. A mayor’s job is constantly selling the benefits and potential of being part of this city.”

He said Kettering is working on a plan to upgrade and enhance the Wilmington Pike corridor, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, and to continue transforming the Town and Country Shopping Center into “our retail downtown. We’re an old community. All we can do is redevelop.”

He compares the mayor’s job to a three-legged stool. “Those legs are infrastructure, an aging housing stock and economic development. Take any one of them away and the stool topples.”

Patterson is proud of his role in attracting companies including Mound Laser & Photonics and the Community Tissue Services to Kettering.

“Our city staff did a lot of the work on that, but I know for a fact that it matters when the the mayor says, ‘I want you in Kettering.’ This job gives you a decent-sized bully pulpit to speak from. My background is business is also a big help, ” he said.

“The housing crisis was hard on our residents. The closing of GM didn’t affect us in tax dollars so much as it affected hundreds of our residents who no longer had jobs or had to take jobs paying considerably less than they had before. We had to pull in our reins and set aside some of the things I know I wanted to see the city accomplish. We’re trying to come out of that now.”

Barnett has distributed no yard signs or campaign materials.

“I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on that,” he said.

“But I think I have about a 50-50 chance. If someone else had entered the race, I would have dropped out, because I wouldn’t have had much chance of winning a three-way race.”

He said the citizens of Kettering voted to limit the pay of the mayor and council during the last election and to impose term limits on those officials.

“We will see if they’re ready for a new mayor. I pay my taxes and I live by the rules,” the Dayton native said. “I met a lot of people when I went around the city collecting signatures to get my name on the ballot. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting outside my home, talking to the people.”

Patterson said that because the two-term limit takes effect with this election, he could still run for another term four years from now if he wins this race.

“I’ll definitely consider that if it’s still fun and I’m still effective,” the mayor said.