The City of Dayton Gets an F in their petition process

Board of Elections to meet tomorrow morning to decide fate of 2 candidates for Dayton City Commission

There were 7 people who turned in the faultily designed Dayton City Commission petitions on March 3, 2023. On Tuesday, March 14, the Board of Elections met to validate petitions and 5 were accepted which creates a primary on May 2nd 2023 to choose 4 candidates to advance. This process could be totally eliminated and save the tax payers a lot of money, by a move to Ranked Choice Voting where all candidates would appear on the November ballot to be ranked in order and the top ranked 2 would be the new Dayton City Commissioners. But, of course, the people in power have made sure that won’t happen.

In fact, they’ve made sure that the petition process is an obstacle to democracy. It’s poorly designed, poorly worded, not made available online, has lots of unnecessary bits and pieces- which generates really bad signature acceptance rates. This is nothing new, back in 2013 I redesigned the petition to actually be a useful, helpful, and fail proof document- I didn’t post it online for fear someone might use it.

How bad is it? Well if you are a six sigma guru, it would fail so bad you’d shut the thing down. Here are the stats from the 7 candidates who turned in (by turn in date):

  • Valerie Duncan 75% correct of 1250
  • Chris Shaw 74% correct of 1279 (incumbent)
  • Matt Joseph 74% correct of 1238 (incumbent)
  • Jordan Wortham 82% correct of 791
  • Marcus Bedinger 61% correct of 822
  • Jo Love 50% correct of 918
  • David Esrati 87% correct of 554

Note, I was the last, and best percent correct. If you were assigning grades like a teacher would:

  • Duncan C
  • Shaw C
  • Joseph C
  • Wortham B-
  • BedingerD-
  • Love F
  • Esrati B+

Isn’t it good to know, no one is worthy of an A?

The fact that Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph have had the ability to correct this petition process easily through a charter amendment should be something you should consider before voting for them.

The State of Ohio has many petitions that are better designed and work very well. The City refuses to use them.
The City of Cincinnati has their own version of this, but, they’ve put a lot of detail in their charter to cover some of the problems. They also cap signatures at 1000.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM in the Montgomery County Administration building on the mezzanine level, the Board of Elections will reconvene to consider the way voters signatures have been adjudicated and presented by their organization, this was requested by Esrati, and Love will also appear.

The way you challenge signatures is to re-contact the voters, and have them sign a notarized affidavit to “cure” their disqualification on the petitions.

The easier way, would be to allow candidates to go out and solicit new signatures after the ruling, but, we don’t want anything to be easy.

Just remember, it only takes 50 signatures to run for Congress, but 500 to run for Dayton City Commission.

The chief stumbling block for Esrati is that about 14 of his signatures were ruled invalid by the “dupe” rule. 4 were because voters printed instead of signed the way they are on record at the BOE. The dupe rule states that no voter is allowed to sign more petitions than the number of seats coming up.

Unfortunately, Dayton’s petition isn’t like Cincinnati’s which has this same stupid rule (more on that in a sec), which actually clearly states “You are not allowed to sign more than ___ petitions in this race” in- this case, 2 for the 2 open seats.

The language in the charter clearly states:

“we individually certify that we have signed no other Mayor’s petition and no petition for Commissioner greater in number than the number of Commissioners to be chosen at the next _______ municipal election.” 

City of Dayton Charter

That means voters are magically supposed to know how many they can or cannot sign, and since this is buried in a massive run on sentence, they may miss this point.

As a bunch did.

And btw – the petitions also say


Every Ohio Petition for office

Does this mean that by signing more than an UNSTATED NUMBER OF PETITIONS on the petition the voter is possibly risking an M5 felony charge?

“F-5 violations are among the least severe, requiring between 6 and 12 months of imprisonment, and up to a $2,500 fine. The court may impose an additional five years of community control. Examples of F-5 violations include breaking and entering and theft over an amount of $1,000.”

Does this seem Democratic to you?

Now, the BOE will tell candidates that you can check your signatures for validity by coming into our subterranean lair and look each voter up on a computer and verify it. Only problem, that won’t tell you anything about who has signed 2 petitions until they are turned in and tallied.

The process that the Secretary of State and the City of Cincinnati have turned to is they check by date of turn in, not by date of signing. This makes zero legal sense, because if voters signed on an earlier date, any later date would be in fact, a false signature.

I have been trying to get this info all the way up to this morning, when the BOE finally responded to my public records request from weeks ago. In the mean time, I’ve gone out to each address, in some cases multiple times, with a notary and had voters weigh in. Most were pissed. They sign because they think voters should have a choice on the ballot. Voters should decide who will lead them in an election, not a selection by a partisan Board of Elections.

Hopefully, the board will realize, that this process has been rigged to turn them into tools of the establishment, not as protectors of our election process.

I turned in over 500 signatures of registered voters. I should be on the ballot. I do it very carefully, going by walking lists of those voters.

Where things went wrong? Because of the “date of turn in” method, which penalizes those of us who have real jobs, I didn’t bother 1200 people after dark to get too many signatures. I respected the voters. The BOE counted all 1200 toward signing, even though the only standard that needs to be met is 500. By counting the extras, these signatures could be used to block a candidate.

That isn’t a good or fair system, nor is it the voters wishes.

For a reference of what voters think of you knocking on their doors at 8:15, in the cold, dark months of January and February, see this screen shot:

Ring doorbell photo of David Esrati soliciting signatures in the South Park Neighborhood.
From a private facebook group in my own neighborhood on the evening of Jan 6, 2023

I first found out that my signatures failed at 4:15 on Friday Mar 10 at 4:15 from Director Jeff Rezabek. It was too late to pick them up and start working on the analysis and cure in time for the Mar 14 meeting.

This has delayed the process by a full 2 weeks of certification. When in fact, if the BOE wasn’t busy checking good signatures past the required 500, we’d have been done long ago. Note, the first 2 times I ran, I turned in 503 and 506 back in 1993.

This is really a question of who are elections for, the voters or the political parties that are willing to go to any length to keep their power. The largest number of voters in Ohio aren’t willing to even vote in primaries for fear of being labeled D or R. They have no rights to select who they want to pick for the general election other than what the parties choose (laws in Ohio make it almost impossible for “Independent” or “Third Party Candidates” to gain ballot access). We also let only D’s or R’s run our elections- so independents, or even candidates in “NON-PARTISAN” elections like this one have no voice.

If the BOE doesn’t decide in my favor, the only solution is to appeal directly to the Ohio Supreme Court for an emergency hearing. Just to find representation here is hard (since all the governments spread the love with all the firms and everyone is conflicted out). I was offered representation by a Columbus firm, just pony up a $7500 retainer.

For those of you who know me, I’m getting to be a mediocre pro se attorney, so I am not afraid to go that route. But, to save everyone money and time, the right choice for the BOE is to blame the city for failure to solve the problems, and put the question of who should make it past the primary- to the voters.

That’s you.

Montgomery County Board of Elections Chief refuses in person request for policy to be voted on the next day

The “Agenda” that the Montgomery County Board of Elections sends out is a joke. But, good luck asking for details. David Esrati, citizen journalist and potential Dayton City Commission Candidate was told he couldn’t make an in-person request for the “Conflict of Interest Policy for the May 2, 2023 Primary Special Election” that is on the agenda for a vote tomorrow.

This policy is probably in response to Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph being on the ballot- and his brother, twice un-elected/rejected appointed official, being appointed to be the deputy director.

Esrati asked the Director, Republican Jeff Rezabek for a copy. Rezabek responded send me a PRR- via email, and refused to produce the document.

He also claimed there is no legal requirement to respond within 24 hours (or the next business day) with an acknowledgement of a PRR. I’m still researching that, because every other organization does it as a matter of respect for the public.

This is a developing story.

68 voters are liars, cheats, or victims of a system to keep candidates off the ballot

It’s taken the corrupt Montgomery County Board of Elections an entire week to figure out a way to invalidate 68 of my 550 signatures I turned in last Friday at 4pm. They won’t tell me if Jo Love’s signatures were good. But, the other 5 candidates, the two Dem party based incumbents, and 3 of the challengers: Valerie Duncan, Jordan Wortham and Marcus Bedinger.

If they’d told me this before 4pm on Friday, I could have picked up the petitions and put together the affidavits for the voters to resign, that said, yes, that was their intention when they signed/printed their name on the flawed petitions. Last time I was 11 short, turned in 15 notarized affidavits and they had the nerve to reject one of them.

This is an exercise in power. When you can put your brother in a position as the deputy director of the Board of (S)Elections for your race as one of the incumbents did, it makes it a little easier to play games.

Before these political patronage folks were afraid of me, I randomly gathered signatures and turned in 503 and 506 and got on the ballot back in 1993. Now, I ask for voters by name to sign, right off the voter rolls. That there is a 13% failure rate is more about them than me.

Monday morning I will go in and get copies of the petitions with the markup. Then I will make affidavits for each voter to sign, and then go to the voters with a notary and correct this issue.

Then we can get started on the campaign.

To those who say “you should have just got more signatures”- let me point out that people don’t love politicians knocking on their doors after dark in the winter months to get signatures. And candidates don’t like to freeze their butts off either doing this.

And last but not least, it only takes 50 signatures to run for Congress. Why does it take 500 to run for Dayton City Commission?

Dayton Can't Demolish its way to prosperity. Run down property in the non-historic part of south park

Dayton can’t demolish its way to prosperity

This article was submitted to the Dayton Daily news for publication as an “Other Voices” column. Or should I say, over a month later, a “Anyone other than David Esrati voices” column. Nick Hrkman, the editor, was hurt by my response to his last rejection. It’s ok, because, they don’t buy ink by the barrel anymore, and I have a platform to publish that’s been in operation since 2005, with over 3500 posts and more comments by at least 10x that number. This blog, really doesn’t belong to me- it belongs to the community. Here’s what the Dayton Daily doesn’t want you to read:

The only winners in Dayton’s quest to demolish vacant homes and buildings are the demolition companies, the landfill owners and the previous owners who somehow escape liability for their criminal negligence in letting their properties decompose before our eyes.

While you may be a homeowner next to one of these vacant and decrepit eyesores, the vacant lot you will have next to you, will for the most part, just sit there, underutilized for decades.

There are no advertising campaigns trying to sell Ohio’s most vacant neighborhoods- or incentives to either move there, build there or invest there. You’ve just had the taxpayers fund your homes further devaluation.

That’s why we should be much more strategic with demolition dollars and look at what they could do instead.

Sometimes the first problem is how you frame the question. We know that these blighted homes decrease the value of our neighborhoods, but, the real question is what will increase the value of our neighborhoods?

The first analysis needs to assess which are our most vacant neighborhoods. They are a cost to our community- in terms of streets to pave, street lamps to light, police to patrol, etc. If you are the only occupied home on the block, you may be stuck forever, never being able to sell for enough to get you back into a viable vibrant community. Your insurance premiums (if you can get a policy) will be sky high, banks won’t lend in vacant neighborhoods, and more than likely, you have a few blights on your block. Instead of spending $17K per home to demolish, maybe, we should be buying your home, moving you into a viable neighborhood, and just fencing off the whole mess until we’re ready to address it?

While housing enforcement failed these neighborhoods the first time, let’s not allow more homes in any neighborhood degrade into future tear downs. Let’s invest in making sure roofs don’t leak, gutters work, and occupancy is re-established quickly. Vacant homes are the enemy of a vibrant community and the blights best friend. If we want to raise tax dollars- we should tax vacant properties higher- forcing the owners to sell, fix up, or occupy these community assets.

Sprawl is another factor playing into real estate valuation. The Miami Valley hasn’t really changed in population in the last 40 years, yet, we’ve continued to build new communities farther away from the city- and forcing us all to underwrite infrastructure to support these new communities. If we set a cap on residential square footage, forcing developers to take out blighted square footage in order to build new- we wouldn’t see the negative impact of the blight- because it would be in high demand to allow new construction. While it sounds costly, when you consider the costs of extending sewers, gas lines, water lines, roads, schools, police, fire and the loss of farmland to feed us all, this property swap would be much more affordable.

When I moved into the South Park neighborhood in 1986, I believed I was moving into a blighted neighborhood. I only looked at 2 homes, one had been on the market for 2 years, starting at $22,900 and was currently $17,900. The other, was $14,500. There were no comparisons between the two other than they both cost about the same as a new economy car. I used a bargaining strategy with the Realtor: I’m buying a home, I don’t care which one, and I have $14,500 cash (It had to be cash, because no bank would lend on a home for less than $25K in those days). I bought a 2 story, frame Victorian with a garage, fenced in yard and about 1900 sq feet. It had plenty wrong with it, but it was habitable. The other, was a bunker like brick cottage, cut into a hillside, with no way to get from upstairs to downstairs without going outside. It was half the square footage and was uninhabitable at the time.

I had no idea the neighborhood was a historic district- and promptly got in trouble with the city for installing “The wrong kind of garage door.” The purpose of historic zoning is to preserve the character of the neighborhood. It’s worked, although people still don’t know about the restrictive zoning and run afoul of it- thanks to incompetent leadership in city hall, who refuse to put restrictive covenants in the deeds of these properties so all new owners are informed.

Now, South Park homes are selling like hotcakes from $200K to $400K, while the neighboring Twin Towers neighborhood still has homes selling under $25K. That house I used as a bargaining chip? It just sold for $200K! There is value in protecting neighborhoods from the wrecking ball, proven by the values in Dayton’s Historic Districts.

There are other practices we could initiate that would make investment in our community more desirable. Our current way of assessing property taxes penalizes people for fixing up their home with higher property taxes. It even raises your taxes if your neighbor does the same. This is an unfair policy to the working class, whose largest investment is often their home. If a rich person puts $200K in the stock market, they aren’t taxed on the rise in value until they sell. The same principle, especially for those who invest in risky neighborhoods, should apply.

My elderly neighbor who hadn’t done anything to her home since I moved in back in 1986, when her home was the only one on the block that looked well kept, had her tax value raised from $45,960 in 1999 to $ 157,680 in 2020. She recently died, the house is in foreclosure and back taxes in arrears. Why are we penalizing those who invested early and kept their property up?

Everyone should get the valuation fixed at their purchase price for their primary homestead, no exceptions. Rentals, investments, depending on the strength and vacancy rates of the neighborhood could also be flexed to encourage investment and repairs.

In fact, if your neighborhood is over 50% vacant, we shouldn’t be charging property taxes at all. Not until there are banks willing to finance the sale of your devalued home or your neighbors vacant one. Homes should be for people and families- not just investors and demolition companies.

With work from home becoming a legitimate share of the workforce, our low cost of living and temperate climate should be able to be leveraged to increase our population. If we invested in targeted neighborhoods offering money to rehab homes as primary residences, income tax breaks for high earners willing to help repopulate vacant neighborhoods, free high quality child care for people who live and work in the city, improved schools, neighborhood police officers, we’d be well on our way to stopping the decay- and the costs that have mounted from it.

Spending money on demolition is just a money pit. It gives zero return on investment, while repairing Wayne Avenue, more police, a safe jail, faster courts, housing enforcement, lead free water distribution, and consolidating our community into our viable neighborhoods would be much better investments.

It wouldn’t hurt to also implement some of the creative solutions outlined above. Or we can just smash and crash the houses as well as our communities. The suburbs love Dayton, because we make them look awesome in comparison. But, we all end up paying the price of blight eventually.

note: if you think Hrkman made a mistake, and should have run this- tell him: [email protected]

The Un-Democratic Party tips the scales in Dayton Ohio

The Dayton City Commission race that could change everything…

I filed my petitions at the deadline yesterday. Now, the Board of (S)Elections goes into full handwriting expert mode to try to protect the party incumbents from challengers. Although handwriting analysis is not accepted in US Courts, and signatures change over time (The Dayton Daily news even had an article today about a service you can pay to help you develop a signature you may like more than your own) the board will manage to reject enough of my 550 signatures to force me to go out with a notary and get notarized affidavits that yes, that was in fact these voters intentions when they put ink to my form.

Last time I did it- I turned in 15 notarized affidavits and they accepted all but one. I needed 11 additional. So you ask, why don’t you turn in more signatures? Because the first time I ran, I turned in 503 and the second time 506 and I got on the ballot. That was in 1993- when I wasn’t deemed a threat to the Monarchy of Montgomery County. That was before we turned into a fascist state where political dandies get jobs with the power to disrupt elections to their liking without oversight.

The 2 seats that are up for defending are those held by Matt Joseph (51) and Chris Shaw (56). Joseph is the longest serving commissioner up for his 6th term, first elected in 2004 and Shaw is trying for his 3rd term, first elected in 2015.

When I turned in my petitions I also made a request- that Russ Joseph and Dave Owens have nothing to do with my petitions or this election. Russ, is the newly appointed Deputy director and brother of incumbent Matt Joseph, and Dave is the brother of the former party chair, Mark Owens, who sent out smear mailers against fellow dems Shenise Turner-Sloss and Darryl Fairchild.

To The Board of Elections

3 Mar 2023

RE: Partisan participation in an election by family members working to conduct elections

I am protesting the involvement of Russ Joseph in the 2023 election process due to his brother is on the ballot. This is a conflict of interest- and he should be isolated in every way from involvement in the race.

The voters of Montgomery County have TWICE- chosen someone other than Russ Joseph to be in a position of authority in this county after he was placed in the Clerk of Courts job and then the County Treasurers job.

Why he would accept a pay cut from the job in the Federal Courts to take over a position of trust over an election should be suspect, especially since his brother is up for re-election for the first time since the FBI and the DOJ investigated elected officials in Dayton and told us we have a “Culture of Corruption” here.

I also, do not think David Owens should be involved either, after his brother suggested at a public meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Party that I was somehow less than suitable as a candidate for office

This was despite the fact that I’d won a 4-way primary.

The fact that the board of elections only recognizes Democrats and Republicans although a greater proportion of voters in Montgomery County are neither is already a problem.

The “Friends and Family” operation of the two parties in Montgomery County is not democratic, nor to be trusted.

Thank you,

David Esrati

Candidate for Dayton City Commission


Letter delivered to BOE Director, R- Jeff Rezabek

I think all of us, would be happy to run for city commission if our brother was in charge of the election. The reality of collecting signatures in the winter, when the sun goes down at 5:30pm- is that voters really don’t love being bothered in their homes by political candidates. The other issue is it only takes 50 signatures to run for Congress and 500 to run for Dayton City Commission.

There are also other ridiculous requirements that the petitions be notarized. Why? What does that prove, since the notary wasn’t there to witness any signature other than the circulator of the petition?

I get my signatures very carefully. I only go to homes of registered voters, and ask for those voters. This should get a close to 100% hit rate. I instruct the few folks who volunteer to help on this dirty task to do the same.

Word on the street that two of the newcomers to this process who turned in petitions gathered their signatures by standing out side the NW Rec center and other locations. First of all, I’ve been illegally chased off of city property multiple times in the past, and secondly, this guarantees a fail rate of about 50%.

We will see if Jo Love (33 years old) or Marcus Bedinger (34) get through the BOE signature gauntlet. Considering the election is 60 days away from the turn in date, the fact that they aren’t going to certify the petitions until March 14, 2023 should have the entire board fired. With a limited window- candidates need to know if they are on the ballot and who their opponents are so they don’t waste time or money on a doomed effort.

Bedinger, seems to be oblivious to this, and has already launched his website and has a video. His logo was probably designed by the same guy who did Jared Grandy’s logo in his well financed losing effort for Commission 2 years ago.

Grandy, would have had a better shot this year- but, let’s face it, it’s been a long time since an incumbent got beat in this race. Either someone has to retire from office as Dean Lovelace did to make way for Chris Shaw, drop out of the race to run for Mayor like Jeff Mims did to elect Shenise Turner-Sloss, or you have an indicted FBI snitch like Joey Williams step down so Darryl Fairchild can win in a special election.

Running for Dayton City Commission without the support of the crooked Montgomery County (UN)Democratic Party has been futile for decades.

The other three challengers, myself (60), Jordan Wortham (33) and Valerie Duncan (70) have all done this before. All use voter lists to get their signatures. Duncan spends her own money mostly to run and get knocked out of the primary. Wortham is coming off a nearly successful run for County Commissioner vs Caroline Rice which took a very odd statistical turn in the final vote count, where a mere 4000 votes were so far off the general vote that the Feds should be investigating (I truly believe that the MCBOE runs two different databases of voters and manipulates the outcomes in close races- I showcased proof of this in 2014). This is why Dave Owen’s is handy to have at the BOE for the Montgomery County Dem Party- and why they secretly hired the former director Steve Harsman to re-jigger the precincts two years ago for $150K.

Full disclosure, my business, The Next Wave has provided design, printing, web development and hosting and mailing services to both Duncan and Wortham.

The last two party endorsed candidates to run, Scott Sliver and Stacey Benson Taylor who got beat by Turner-Sloss and Fairchild, are absent. Sliver wants no part of the political scene after the last outing, and Taylor, has a new patronage job working as Chief Deputy for County Recorder Brandon McClain. It’s unconfirmed, but the smear mailings against Turner-Sloss and Fairchild were the brainchild of current Dayton Clerk of Courts Marty Gehres who is another child of the Monarchy who will always have his toast buttered for him by the party.

Why this race matters so much

When Joey Williams was indicted for accepting bribes and disgracing himself, I asked the first question at the press conference announcing the “Culture of Corruption” witch hunt- “Do you only indict Black men?”

The reality is Williams, Winburn, Higgins and the FBI informant Mike Marshall were scheming to set up a new demolition company to get city contracts. The ones Joey had already steered to Marshall’s existing FBI front company “United Demolition” had been deemed a fail- knocking that company off the bidders list. Now, just remember, contracts are supposed to be negotiated by the City Purchasing Department and the City Manager- not the Commission- which only is supposed to vote to approve in a role as a check and balance.

That takes 3 votes- and of the 4 possible people who joined Williams on that, all but Nan Whaley are still on the Commission: Mims, Shaw and Joseph. It’s also well known that under Whaley, “favored” contractors (read donors to her campaigns) were routinely given inside information on upcoming bids. That the FBI and DOJ never indicted anyone else in City Hall is a travesty of epic proportion. It’s also why I’m still waiting for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on my FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) case to get the tapes of Whaley that I know were played to the Grand Jury. That case has been accepted by the court and we will wait, I’m sure, until after this election, before the voters find out the truth about how corrupt city hall has been.

It would only take one of the challengers to get elected to shift the balance of power forever in Dayton. It takes 3 votes to get anything done, and we’re currently sitting at the all time high of 2 independent voices. (Other single voices have been Abner Orick, Mike Turner, Gary Leitzel and for a few years, Darryl Fairchild).

I don’t know much about the newcomers Love and Bedinger, other than Bedinger seems like another Desiree Tims– coming in from out of town and suggesting he’s the chosen one. The technical term for folks like this is “Carpetbagger” (Oxford dictionary: “a political candidate who seeks election in an area where they have no local connections.”). However, I’d vote for anyone other than Shaw or Joseph who have been proven to be the friends of only 3 causes:

  • Downtown developers who take our tax dollars for their private projects,
  • Demolition Contractors who destroy our urban fabric and clean up the messes that the years of insider rule has caused.
  • The Health Care duopoly- that they effectively continued by allowing Good Sam to be torn down- with a restrictive clause that wouldn’t allow any other health care provider to move into the community.

I will be setting up a new bank account for my City Commission Race as soon as I know I’m on the ballot. In the mean time, I hope the voters in the city realize, this election is only about one thing: Do you want to end the reign of the Culture of Corruption by electing at least one more voice to help Turner-Sloss and Fairchild- or do you want to continue with more of the same?

I personally, don’t believe we can move forward as long as people like Shaw and Joseph are in power. Those who look away from the heinous treatment of our citizens in the jail, who allow paraplegics to be pulled out of their cars by their hair by Dayton cops, who think you can demolish your way to prosperity and lastly- to continue the “culture of corruption” that still hasn’t been fully exposed.

Dayton deserves better than the rule of the un-democratic parties friends and family program. It’s time to topple the monarchy.

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