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Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr. says he's ready to lead Dayton as next mayor

Headshot of Jeffrey Mims Jr. as he speaks into a black microphone. Mims is a city commissioner and long-time community leader who is running in the Dayton mayoral race.
Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr. is throwing his hat into the Dayton mayoral race. He is a city commissioner and long-time community mentor to Dayton's Black youth.

With Election Day fast approaching, WYSO's Mawa Iqbal talks to Jeffrey Mims Jr. about his candidacy for Dayton mayor.

There are two candidates vying to be Dayton’s next mayor. One of them is Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr.,a long-time community leader and Dayton resident. He recently sat down WYSO’s Mawa Iqbal to talk about his run, and why he wants to become the city’s next leader.

*This interview has been edited for clarity.

Jeffrey Mims Jr.: Well, you know, this city is special to me because I moved here when I was two months old, and my parents were extremely ‘po.’ And I say ‘po’ because we didn't have enough money to pay for the other two letters. So it was like, just ‘po,’ and we lived in people's attics, people's basements. Being involved in so many great activities as a child growing up, in terms of music, art, athletics. And I think academic stuff was a given, because my father, you know, he and my mother had no more than a fifth grade education. They always talked about the fact that ‘you go to school, get involved in everything you want to get involved in, do your best in everything that you do, and don't be holding no stupid grades, and don't be up there actin’ a fool.’ So, you know, there's a variety of experiences that I had, good and bad, that helped to shape my earlier molding, if you will, to want to do the best I could for this community.

Mawa Iqbal: So is that a reason or a part of a reason why you decided to run for mayor this year?

JM: I was going to run for reelection for commissioner and actually, though, I got my petitions filled out and everything, and I was just sitting back on easy street waiting for the election to happen. And then the mayor shared with me that she was not going to run again for mayor, and that all the conversations that everyone had said, 'Well, you got the most experience, you got the most involvement you know, community and city-wide.'

MI: Of course, Dayton is getting that giant ARPA grant. And so I was wondering, I'm...

JM: I'm glad you asked that. Glad you asked that question. 

MI: Yes, so what sort of opportunities do you see with using that grant money in Dayton?

JM: Well, you know actually a lot of it is going to the communities. We are the only city that is using a process where our community members, our citizens have an input. OK. It is so amazing that my opponent talks about the fact that they will take this money and split it up equally and do this, and do that. I mean, some of the thoughts or ideas they have, have not been thought through because they had no basis for figuring out the right thing to do. Because one of the things that is still somewhat in limbo are the guidelines from the federal government. They have not come through yet. So we don't have all the information that we would like to have. But again, I really want to mention the fact that unlike other municipalities, we have chosen to give our citizens the opportunity to write some grant opportunities for things that they want to do. But what we have found is through the survey process with citizens, that they do want to have a lot of those dollars to help them in small business, help them with neighborhood issues in terms of blight. And even though that money that we got with Issue 9 allowed us to cut grass in vacant lots and thoroughfares, twice as much as we were doing before we got those dollars, there's still a lot to be done.

MI: And I was also going to ask you, if you don't get elected for mayor, are there any next steps for you? Or what sort of plans do you have after that?

JM: Well, I don't have thoughts like that *laughs.* No, I don't have thoughts like that about not being there. That would be a first for me, but that, you know, anything can happen. But, no I generally don't have thoughts like that. Because I've been a community person, there's so many things that I'll continue to do because it's in my blood. So me being mayor is a bonus for both me and the city. And in terms of that, because you have Jeff Mims on steroids. So Jeff will be able to accelerate so many of his belief systems in terms of working and making things happen.

Election Day is this Tuesday. For more information on how to vote, visit your county’s board of elections website.

Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.