What will the Democratic party think of next? It’s not as good as the Dayton Process.

The Montgomery County Democratic Party (you know the one that forgets to run a candidate for Congress) is already putting word on the street that they have a “super candidate” a “political heavyweight” ready to run in four years to “beat Gary.”


Nevermind that they need to have a candidate to fill Dean Lovelace’s seat when he keeps missing meetings, or one for Matt Joseph when he gets that State Department job he’s dreaming of. How about having enough candidates to force a primary in two years- and let the voters decide? Last time Matt and Dean ran they were unopposed if memory serves right.

And who is this “super duper candidate” that they have in the wings? My guess is Judge AJ Wagner. It’s really too bad that he didn’t run this time to force a primary, where we would have seen Rhine knocked out early.

The reality is, in four years the Montgomery County Democratic Party won’t have any power left in the commission elections. The days of raising $127K plus to lose to an unknown are over. There are quite a few people wondering what they got for their money they donated to Rhine’s campaign right now.

In fact, their days of counting on the Get Out The Vote in West Dayton to deliver their slate will be over. We’re going to reinvent the way we elect people in Dayton, much the way we invented the City Manager form of Government. Introducing:

The Dayton Process

I am organizing the next group of candidates to run in two years. They will work together to make sure they all turn in valid petitions with at least 500 notarized signatures. They will each keep a blog with at least one post per week on their position on city issues. They will each raise a fixed amount of money in small donations from a wide donor base to pay for a single mail piece that will be delivered to every registered voters home in Dayton with equal space for each candidate. They will participate in several organized debates which will be broadcast on public access, available on YouTube and the public will be invited. There will be no yard signs, tv spots, radio ads, print ads, door hangers or any of the other “noise” that goes with our typical election process.

The candidates will meet at least monthly to learn about the various parts of the city charter, the organizational structure of Dayton, to discuss issues like regionalism, urban planning, sustainable strategies, best practices in other cities. The meetings will involve thought leaders in the community, elected representatives who support this process and experts in fields as diverse as criminal justice to green technology. Think of it as an apprenticeship for public leadership.

When these candidates show up on the ticket, they should have already learned about all the neighborhoods in Dayton, met with neighborhood leaders, built a collective database of voter data and established relationships around the city. There will be no unknowns running for office. Yes, the primary process will eliminate at least several of them from the actual election, but, they will then be the cadre for the next batch.

Of course, the incumbents will be invited to participate, but they too, must play by the same rules- no additional money or marketing. If they choose not to join in, they will be running against not just a well prepared, extremely bright, prepared group of candidates- they may seem out of place when going begging for thousands of dollars to promote their candidacy in the outmoded way.

Unless they have a great set of accomplishments, voters will see no reason to return them to the ballot after the primary. The stranglehold on the ballot will be forever broken.

Sure, this sounds a bit idealistic, and there may be candidates who decide they want to drop out of this programmed approach, but, since all meetings will be openly documented, voters will already have a good sense of the group dynamic and who the best leaders are for the job.

I’ve already mentioned some of the people I hope to have on the ballot in 2011, if you are interested in participating in this program, please let me know.

Last Tuesday we proved that underdogs can win. Now, we have to make sure there are plenty of dogs in the race so that the voters feel that they really have a choice and a voice.

I believe Gary Leitzell was an eminently better choice for the next four years than Rhine McLin. I expect he’ll support this initiative. As to those of you who question his qualifications, and think that he’s beatable in four years- let me remind you- before Rhine McLin ascended to her daddy’s House seat, she had less experience in leadership that Gary, and she was consider unbeatable this year by her last opponent, David Bohardt.

Times change, imagine that.

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