Who will be Dayton’s next mayor? These 3 men are making plans.

Credit: Laura Bischoff

Democrat Nan Whaley is announcing she won't seek re-election and is considering her next move.

Credit: Laura Bischoff

Nan Whaley leaving office leaves mayor’s race wide open.

Nan Whaley’s surprise announcement this week that she will not seek reelection means Dayton in 2022 will have a new mayor for the first time in eight years.

Political hopefuls have until March 5 to file petitions, but several people have confirmed they are running or are considering throwing their hat into the ring, including a current city commissioner, a former mayor and a political newcomer who is a boxing promoter.

The list of potential candidates includes Commissioner Jeff Mims, former Mayor Gary Leitzell and businessman Tony Shultz.

To appear on the ballot, office-seekers need to collect 500 valid signatures of registered Dayton voters and submit them to the Montgomery County Board of Elections within the next two months, said Steve Harsman, the board’s deputy director.

“They require 500 signatures ― that’s a lot ― it’s the most in the county, in fact,” Harsman said. “It takes a well-organized effort to get that many signatures.”

If more than two mayoral candidates submit enough valid signatures by the deadline and their petitions are certified, there will be a special runoff election in May to narrow the race to two candidates, Harsman said.

If two or fewer petitions are certified, those candidates automatically will face off in November, he said.

ExploreDemocrat Nan Whaley won’t run for re-election as Dayton mayor

Whaley this month announced she will not seek a third term in office.

She was first elected mayor in 2013, replacing incumbent Gary Leitzell, who did not make the cut in a special runoff election.

She won reelection four years later, after running unopposed. She previously served as a city commissioner.

Whaley said she pulled petitions a week before the November presidential election but later decided not to seek another term. She says she has not decided what she will do next.

It’s unclear at this point how many people will pull and circulate petitions to try to join the mayor’s race.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr. is considering running for mayor. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr. is considering running for mayor. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Jeffrey Mims Jr.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr. says he is thinking about running for mayor and expects to make a decision soon ― possibly within days.

Mims, 73, who is finishing his second term, said he had already collected more than 600 signatures to run again for the commission when he learned Whaley was leaving office.

He said right away a variety of people reached out to encourage him to run for Whaley’s seat. He said their faith and confidence in him was moving.

“They called and said you have a history of doing good things,” he said.

The mayor is the face of the city and the city commission and speaks on their behalf, which is not quite the same as commissioners’ roles, Mims said.

The mayor has a tremendous amount of responsibility and Whaley has elevated and put her stamp on the office, Mims said.

Mims said if he chooses to run he has excellent resume for the job, given his nearly eight years on the commission and his background as an educator, coach, military veteran, union leader and school board member.

This is a critical time for the city because of the coronavirus public health emergency and the economic crisis it created, Mims said, and the city needs to figure out how to deal with shrinking resources at a time of growing need.

But, he said, he’s optimistic because of the “teamsmanship” of the city and its community partners, who are focused on improving residents’ quality of life.

Former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell.
Former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell.

Gary Leitzell

Leitzell, 59, of Walnut Hills, said he filed his petitions containing 917 signatures in early December, about a month before Whaley announced her plans.

Leitzell served one term as Dayton’s mayor, after his upset win in 2009 over incumbent Rhine McLin.

Leitzell, an independent, said he filed because he felt Whaley should have to face competition.

Also, timing is everything in politics, he said, adding that he thinks Whaley has become unpopular among many residents and voters and they are ready for a change in leadership.

“When you talk to 917 people, and knock on more doors than that, I think only seven people said they were supporting her,” he said. “That was in East Dayton ― she may be more popular in West Dayton, because of the party affiliation.”

Leitzell said the city commission is dominated by one party (Democrats), which is problematic.

The city’s elected leaders lack long-term vision and creativity when it comes to finding ways to make Dayton a better place, he said.

He said he offers fresh ideas and will pay close attention to making sure what the city does is done the right way.

Tony Shultz, a fight promoter and businessman, says he plans to run for Dayton mayor. CONTRIBUTED
Tony Shultz, a fight promoter and businessman, says he plans to run for Dayton mayor. CONTRIBUTED

Tony Shultz

Tony Shultz says he is a business owner, author, fight promoter and former boxer.

The 42-year-old Dayton View Triangle resident said he is a Republican who if elected will work with other prominent GOP leaders and statehouse members to secure funding for the city for infrastructure, stronger schools and tax breaks to help rebuild the city.

Shultz said he is running for mayor because he wants to help move Dayton forward to become one of the safest, most exciting and fastest-growing cities in the nation.

Shultz said this is an exhilarating time for Dayton because residents want and are going to get to hear from new voices. He said he is a good listener, has an open mindset and will offer new approaches to addressing important and long-standing community issues.

“I’m the right person for the job, because of my strong relationships that allow me to pick up the mayor’s phone to begin conversations that attract investments for infrastructure, high-wage job growth from privately-funded start-ups, and (my) ability to make those connections between those in schools and those willing to hire them,” he said.

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