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May 2023 Primary loaded with school levies, hotly contested Dayton City Commissioner candidates

The flag of the U.S. state of Ohio, officially known as the "Ohio Burgee"
John Eisenmann
Wikimedia Commons

Across Ohio, early voting continues — leading up to Ohio’s Primary next Tuesday. One new change is everyone must present a valid state or federal issued photo ID in order to vote. All Things Considered Host, Jerry Kenney spoke with WYSO’s Politics and Education Reporter Kathryn Mobley about some of the issues people will see on their ballots.

Jerry Kenney: Kathryn, the Dayton City Commissioners race — there are two seats up for grabs with two incumbents fighting to keep those seats and facing four challengers?

Kathryn Mobley: That's right, Jerry. The two incumbents are Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph. Shaw is 56 and is seeking a third term on Dayton’s city commission. He owns a laundry cleaning business, Shaw Cleaners. Shaw says his focus is: bringing more jobs into the city, developing a more diverse workforce and uniting business, labor and the public school system to invest in apprenticeship programs.

The second is Matt Joseph. He’s 51 and is a principal logistics engineer with Sierra Nevada Corp. Joseph is seeking a sixth term on the commission. Joseph’s focus is to make Dayton more immigrant friendly, to promote sustainability and to enhance the quality of the city's infrastructure, such as good roads, trash pickup, snow removal and safe drinking water.

The incumbent field has four. Thirty four-year-old Jordan Wortham served as a Dayton police officer for seven years and he’s owned several small businesses. In an interview with the Dayton Daily News, Wortham described himself as socially progressive and fiscally responsible. Issues important to him include neighborhood advancement, youth services and safety and commissioner-led civic engagement.

Marcus Bedinger is 34, African American and raising two sons with his partner. Professionally, he’s worked in retail management for several Fortune 500 companies. Bedinger's platform includes promoting diversity in positions of power, addressing the shortage of affordable housing and reexamining how the city of Dayton is awarding the federal awarded Covid relief funds.

The third challenger is David Esrati. He's a veteran in our political landscape, having run for several offices, including Congress. Yet his efforts have only resulted in him becoming a precinct captain. Esrati owns the ad agency, Next Wave Marketing Innovation. Some of his goals include greater transparency during city commissioner meetings. Esrati wants commissioners to give updates and reports on how citizens’ requests are being addressed and resolved. He wants to reduce petition requirements to make it easier to get people and issues on the ballot and he supports transit subsidies for people who use the public bus system to get to work.

Finally, Valerie Duncan. She's 67 and has spent more than 30-years working for the City of Dayton and for Montgomery County. Duncan wants to strengthen the city’s housing inspection division to address blighted and abandoned properties, to create programs to help residents become homeowners as well as develop other programs to help homeowners make repairs and partner with Montgomery County to create comprehensive services for seniors, the homeless, young people, domestic violence survivors and others.

Jerry: There are a number of schools that have proposed tax levies in an effort to shore up their budgets. Give us just a few of the school levies up for vote.

Kathryn: Franklin City Schools has a five-year renewal of a 13.92-mill substitute operating levy. It'll generate $7.75 million a year for the district. This is not a new tax — it's a renewal which means the voter's taxes will not increase.

This levy was on the November 2022 ballot but failed. I spoke with Franklin City School Superintendent Michael Sander who says if this levy does not pass–the district will be forced to cut services and staff in the new school year. “Our full-day kindergarten would go down to half time, we would stop the chrome book program for the students. There’d be a reduction of CCP courses, we’d have to go to the minimum state transportation–that means no high school busing and for K-8 students–no busing for students who live within 2 miles of the school they attend," explains Sander. "There also would be staff cuts–we’d have to cut 7 classified positions and 10 teachers next year.“

Voters in the Mad River School District will see Issue 12 on the ballot. It's a 5.9-mill operating levy that will generate about $1.5 million a year.

This is the first time in 10 years the school district has put a tax levy on the ballot. Mad River Schools is another district where if this levy does not pass, administrators say some support staff and teachers will need to be laid off.

In Vandalia there's a 1% income tax levy on the ballot to benefit the city's schools. It'll generate $6.4 million per year and will affect wages and self-employment income. Supporters say this earned income tax levy will not directly impact their senior citizens— many of who are on fixed retirement incomes.

Jerry: Finally, there is a police levy on the ballot in Sugarcreek Township. What are the details there?

Kathryn: It’s a new 1.5-mill police property tax to benefit Sugarcreek Township Police.
It's the first time in 13 years such a measure has been put to voters. This levy will generate around $721,000 a year.

The money will help hire two officers — one patrol officer and a full-time school resource officer for the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools. It will also cover the costs of new vehicles and equipment.

If it passes — people owning property that’s valued at 100-thousand dollars would pay an additional $52.50 in property taxes.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924