James Cummings probably reads esrati.com

Last week I wrote about 500 signatures vs. 50 and the lack of choice in the Dayton City Commission race. Today, James Cummings writes about the lack of choice in the Dayton City Commission race. I’d have a quote from him- but the DDN site won’t load anything but ads on the page for his column. It’s fixed now.

Try it on your own:

James Cummings: Newer faces needed in the political process

There’s something wrong with this picture. How many times have you heard someone say how much better the city would be if they were in charge? Where are those people now when there’s a chance to actually make some changes rather than just talk about them?

And the answer is: I’ve run or tried to run 6x. I’ve been arrested and persecuted by former Mayor and now Congressman Turner for 2.5 years- without any support from the Dayton Daily News- who at one time called me an “ad guy with not much to say.” Even when I had the endorsement of the IAFF (Firefighters union) it never made the press. The Democratic party seems content to run candidates like Matt Joseph who just collect a check.

It takes a lot of time and money to run- and it takes its toll. Without party support- it’s almost a guaranteed disaster. The only reason Lovelace ever won- was it was a special election- and I drew enough votes from Judy Orick and Mary Sue Kessler to allow him to win.

On the other hand, it’s kind of disturbing not having anybody in a city the size of Dayton step up to say “I think I can do better.”

Of course, if you go to screen for the party central committee when the decisions been made (or the deals brokered) you are seen as “disloyal” instead of as a person who is trying to raise the level of discourse in a city in desperate need of new ideas.

So when Matt Joseph says:

“It’s just wrong for a city this size to have uncontested city commission races,” Joseph said. “It’s an honor to serve as a city commissioner in Dayton, and we should be having good people trying to beat me.”

Next time- ask the party floor for challengers- and be willing to debate them on issues. Put your seat in play every year- instead of expecting a rubber stamp, that would be putting your money where your mouth is.

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5 Responses

  1. Jeff March 21, 2007 / 1:52 pm
    I don’t follow local politics too much, but I can see a sort of revolving door in local politics here in suburbia, too. People who are term limited out of office run for different offices. So there is sort of an ongoing game of political musical chairs where the same people are playing, but run for different seats.

    I used to be involved in local politics somewhat in Kentucky, in Louisville, and it was more of a situation where one pays ones dues working at the precinct and LD level, volunteering and getting out the vote, and also having a good base of support if one wants to run for office..this could be unions, churches, neighborhood groups, or just being well-known in the community. This was the case for maverick candidates as well as party regulars. Louisville also had ward election (not the at large system Dayton has), so aldermen could build a local geographic base of support.

    Occasonally ,maverick candidates could rely on this to get elected, where they wouldn’t stand a chance in a city like Dayton.

    .

  2. Bruce Kettelle March 22, 2007 / 2:37 pm
    I think that most of the Dayton area communities have done away with term limits.
  3. Greg Hunter March 22, 2007 / 3:16 pm
    I’m certain he reads you, why not. There is no other source of information about things going on in this town. The beat reporters are not able to interact or report on anything of substance that may upset the apple cart in the Dayton/Montgomery power structure. The editors and publishers are in bed with the power brokers as they serve the DDN’s interests. The only reporters that are stable and can interact are the sports reporters and they could give a crap about what happens in this town.

    What ever happened to sins of omission?

  4. Jeff March 22, 2007 / 4:58 pm
    Speaking as an outsider, one of the things I noticed about this area is the general apathy towards politics. This is not a political culture, the way Kentucky or Chicago or San Francisco are.

    And this is by design, too. The municiple reform brokered back around WWI era, after the flood, pretty much destroyed local politics, as it was inteded to bust neighborhood-based ward politics, and, partially, to thwart the rising power of the local Socialists.

    Commission-manager government was not inteded to be truely democratic (with a small d), which is why you see such restrictions on signatures, and the tough hurdles for referendum qualifications. The idea was to have as little democracy as possible and to dilute neighborhood and people power, hence the small commision and at-large elections. The commission & mayor was to act as a mere board of directors, with the real day-to-day operating power in the hands of the city manager.

    As this system was great for technocratic urban management but rotten for populist neighborhood representation, they set up the priority board system as a “fix” ..to give neighborhood groups some voice in city governemnt.

    Yet, the damage has been done. The reform of nearly a century ago was intended to remove politics, and it did pretty much do that, as the result is, now, and apathetic and uninvolved citizenry who forsakes politics, leaving it to “proffessonals”.

    There is not political cutlure in Dayton, hence no political interest.

  5. David Esrati March 22, 2007 / 5:19 pm

    Jeff-
    Interesting observation.
    I’ve been an advocate of ditching the PB system- and having neighborhood leaders meet directly with the City manager 4x a year.
    Direct lines work best.
    At one time- Dean Lovelace was pushing enlarging the commission and having it by zones- but once he got elected, of course he forgot about that proposal.

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