OUR RECOMMENDATION DAYTON CITY COMMISSION
Williams, Whaley easily best for city
This year should be a tough election for incumbents on.the Dayton City Commission. The city keeps shrinking in population, keeps having to make painful budget cuts, has seen record numbers of home foreclosures, loses NCR, shows up near the top of embarrassing lists and faces periodic crime sprees.
In truth, though, Dayton’s government is managing to do more than struggle from crisis to crisis. It has neighborhood revitalization programs going. It’s managed to maintain a solid bond rating, nothing to be taken for granted these days. It’s on track to do something about all the empty houses resulting from foreclosures.
It has the Tech Town development project on the move. It has won a state designation as an aerospace hub and, with Montgomery County, has a well-conceived project going with Israel that seems likely to bring some new jobs to the region. The city commissioners divvy up jobs among them selves, functioning basically as a Democratic team. Some might see them as too cozy, which is a good and fair point, but at least there’s not a lot of posturing.
One incumbent seeking reelection is Joey Williams. He’s been on the commission or the Dayton School board for the better part of two decades. As president of Chase Bank for Dayton and Cincinnati, he brings a voice from the business community to a commission that includes others who are especially tight with labor or come out of neighborhood activism or the party. That mix is good.
Commissioner Williams’ colleagues credit him with helping keep the city on sound fiscal ground. He’s been less successful in his. effort – with Commissioner Dean Lovelace- to find solutions to self-destructive violence among the city’s young people. But give him credit for taking on the toughest of problems.
Commissioner Nan Whaley, seeking her second term, came up through the Democratic Party. She has, among other projects, led the city’s effort toward “land banking,” that is, taking control of abandoned and neglected property with the goal of reusing it someday.
Unfortunately, the state legislature has not passed the legislation that would create a revenue stream for such projects. But the city has demolished hundreds of buildings and is aiming for 1,500 more. Demolition is necessary to prevent these places from becoming eyesores and magnets for crime.
Despite Dayton’s problems, the city commission race hasn’t generated much action. That’s partly because a lot of people who might put together a strong candidacy have left for the suburbs. Other would be candidates failed to get enough signatures to be on the ballot.
The only challenger to the two incumbents is multi-time candidate David Esrati. He runs a Web site discussing city issues. He has somewhat smoothed the rough edges on his highly abrasive act that has never won him many votes. Still, though, the task of disagreeing agreeably appears to be a painful, difficult stretch for him.
And his ideas are strangely bad. He faults the city commission, for instance, for intruding too much on the domain of the city manager. In fact, however, City Manager Rashad Young had plenty of authority, and used it well. At times in Dayton’s history, the charge might reasonably have been made that elected officials over-intruded on the city manager. Think Mike Turner or Paul Leonard. But neither Mayor Rhine McLin nor any other commissioner is in that mold.
Also, Mr. Esrati, in the good name of regionalism, wants the city to give up its authority to run Dayton International Airport. He points out that the airport’s role is regional. True enough. But he can’t point to any complaints from suburban officials about how it’s run. And the airport is one of the city’s few assets. He wants to fix something that ain’t broke.
Incumbents Joey Williams and Nan Whaley have been steady, responsible voices. They have better judgment about the issues and personalities better suited to governance. They are the best bets for Dayton voters.[update: 5pm The editorial was finally posted online: http://www.daytondailynews.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/dayton/opinion/entries/2009/10/08/editorial_williams_whaley_easi.html?cxtype=feedbot After speaking with Ray Marcano, it was agreed that it makes no sense to take it down here. The paper claims it was a tech glitch/ or oversight on their part]