Who do you want to run Dayton?

Sounds like a pretty simple question, “who do you want to run Dayton?” And most of you think this is a question of who you’ll vote for (or for those of you in the ‘burbs but own property or work in Dayton- who will the residents choose).

But, it’s not about elections, not by a long shot. Rhine McLin used to say she preferred the term “elected representative” to “politician”- and I agree with her, but it’s still not a question of who you want to run Dayton.

Maybe the question should be, who is running Dayton now? Who has been running it for a long time?

If you think it’s been the people who’ve been elected- you are kidding yourself. If you think it’s been the City Manager- the person tasked by the Charter with the job- you are kidding yourself. The people running Dayton have been the people with the money, the people who decide who gets to represent the people with the money, and that’s about it.

When I first ran against Mayor Richard Clay Dixon I had no idea that I was running against much more than a former shop teacher. I was running against the unions, the political parties, the Dayton Business Committee and the developers. When I asked how Dixon had raised $28,000, maybe from someone who wanted to build a landfill on the West side- I hit a nerve.

I’ve been hitting nerves ever since. Like the letter I got the other day about my “spray painting” my message on the sidewalk- outside a non-profit, and how they demanded I clean it off, because it would hurt their 501-c3 (non-profit) status. Or the call about the chalk around the park where we had the play in South Park.

However, if it’s the “Dayton Originals” campaign done by the city- it’s ok. I even got chastised as mean for pointing out that Rhine McLin listed a dead person on her campaign finance report, as if reporting facts is now somehow wrong.

I’m the guy people love to hate. I get compared to Abner Orick, who had a combative style on the Commission, just because I ask questions, like- who do you want running Dayton?

The chalk is guerrilla marketing. Making a very little bit of money go a long way. Yes, you are supposed to notice it. Should it make you mad, or curious? Would it be better if I accepted big checks from special interest groups and bought yard signs, billboards, TV spots,  and did robo-calls like everyone else? Or had the unions distribute my literature to curry future favor- instead of just based on who is the right person for the job?

P.T. Barnum used to think that all press is good press- as long as they spell the name right. I believe that today, it’s more about creating an emotional response to cut through the clutter of the millions of messages. Either way – means to an end, I need name recognition, and just writing online isn’t enough. Look at most campaign literature, and then ask what it tells you? Born in Dayton, wife and 2 kids, where they went to school, endorsed by? I was laughed at for printing tabloid sized literature the first two times I ran for office.

This post is longer than what most candidates publish on their entire site.

Who do you want running Dayton? An automaton who spouts what the people who paid his way into office, who is careful to never step on any toes? A bold leader who tries new things and looks at failure as a learning experience? Someone who communicates what they are thinking- and asks for your input?

The reality is- the person leading Dayton, by charter, should be the City Manager, who works for the City Commission. It takes three votes to pass any legislation. I’m running for one seat. Will it kill Dayton to have one person who isn’t owned by any special interest groups, political parties, developers? One who doesn’t take $5,500 from a demolition contractor in Westerville?

Dayton’s leaders  priorities should be the people, not the special interest groups, or people with the bank rolls.

You get to decide November 3rd. Or, they do.

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15 Responses

  1. Ice Bandit September 19, 2009 / 12:17 pm
    “Then Mayor Mike Turner, lit the ceremonial first flesh burner,
    shook Satan’s hand and wished the Devil well,
    and ever since that day, you hear all the people say,
    ‘Go to Dayton,’ instead of ‘Go to hell…”
    (Closing lyrics of Pretty Boy Floyd’s song “Satan moves to Dayton”)
    Indeed, maybe if we collectively petition the Prince of Darkness he will leave his unholy realm and take up residence at West Third and North Ludlow.  The Daytonian proclivity of voting by race has already moved us in that direction; for no matter how far we slide the usual suspects get re-elected and are never called to account for their failures by the DDN or other mainstream media outlets. El Bandito de Helios wouldn’t be surprised if Mayor McHat didn’t get a ringing endorsement from the
    DDN, nor would he find it unusual for Forbes Magazine to print another list of “Most (fill in the negative adjective) City” list with the (tarnished) Gem City in the top 10. Granted, beseeching Beelzebub to reign may sound a little extreme, but just convince local the race hustlers that he is black and labor leaders that he’s a Democrat and that should unleash an avalanche of campaign bucks. Face it folks, there is a national joke and “Dayton” is the punchline………..
  2. Loni Podiak September 19, 2009 / 4:21 pm
    If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got. It’s time for a change. What’s been done is NOT working for Dayton. If David is elected at least we will have one commissioner who can actually think for himself. All we have now is commissioners who are paid to think what they are told to think by special intrests.
  3. Gene September 19, 2009 / 8:49 pm
    Your question answered by me, Gene:


    Next ……..

  4. tg September 20, 2009 / 3:59 pm
    One thing I get about David (and forgive me for talking about you like you’re not here, David) is that he can be a bit like a frustrated child who just wants to be heard – he gets louder and more obnoxious until you stop and listen to him. Now, I’m not saying he’s childish – if anything David is very passionate and he wants to make a difference. The problem is he has no filters and what he thinks is what comes flying out of his mouth, and he has stepped on more than a few toes and burned a lot of bridges.

    But when you take the time to really listen to him, when you give him the chance to explain his thoughts and lay them out for you – I think the guy is a genius and I suspect he’s just way ahead of his time. He does challenge people – he’s challenged my beliefs and perceptions a lot over time – and I think I’m a better person because of that. But I’ve learned that instead of fighting him, you need to let him say his peace – it’s easier on everyone involved! :)

    Would he create a ruckus on the Commission? Uh, I think the short answer is “hell yes”. Is that such a bad thing? I’m not so sure. But David, as you pointed out – it takes 3 votes to get anything passed, and I worry that you’ve burned so many bridges, we’ll see a constant 4-1 tally just out of stubbornness – yours and theirs. In other words, I worry that you’ve burned your social capital before you could really do good with it.

    For all your complaints about Nan, she has been incredibly supportive of our efforts in South Park. She’s also worked very hard with Carolyn Rice on the landbanking issue. She spends a lot of time studying the best practices of other cities and tries to implement them here.

    As for Joey, I think he’s too busy with his day job as a bank president serving two markets (Cincy & Dayton) to be fully engaged in the City in the way it needs him to be engaged right now. Nice man, but I don’t know what he has actually done as a City Commissioner. That’s not to say he hasn’t done anything, I’m just saying I’m uninformed as to what it might be. He’s normally the least visible and vocal of all the commissioners.

    And quite honestly, given his health, I think it’s incredibly unfair of Dean Lovelace to remain on the commission – to himself, his family and the community. I don’t question his loyalty or committment to the City. I think he should have stepped aside so there would be three openings in this election cycle, because if he is unable or unwilling to serve out his full four year term, it’s just going to cost the City money it doesn’t have to hold a special election.

    So as much as I realize that David can be a loose cannon – I also realize he wouldn’t keep jumping up and down screaming at the top of his lungs if he didn’t CARE. The questions are 1) will the rest of the members of the Commission be willing to listen and really think about the ideas David has to offer? and 2) David, will you be willing to listen if they geniunely do not believe one of your ideas will work.

    In other words, will ALL of you be able to play nice enough in the sandbox to get things done? As you’ve alluded to, you’ve called a lot of these people out in the not most gracious of ways over time – is everyone going to be able to put aside past issues and work together toward the City’s future? Because the last thing we need is energy wasted throwing sand in each other’s faces, we need everyone focused on building the sand castle – in other words, laying out the vision and direction of our City.

  5. David Esrati September 20, 2009 / 7:11 pm

    @TG- thanks for the semi-endorsement. Again- would it be bad to have someone to remind the commission that the City Manager is supposed to be doing the leading?

    As to will the rest of the Commission listen- they will – when the citizens actually start knowing what’s going on- no more secret meetings, no “surprise legislation.”

    I know how to work with people- somehow, I’ve managed to do it for 20+ years in business- and, if you think that HSPI meetings always ran smoothly- you should have seen what it was like before I took over after the reign of Rick Elliot. Things got much more organized and orderly.

    Dean has missed the cutoff to not cost us money for an election for his seat. It’s too bad. If I do lose, I’ll be prepped and ready for that special election.

    The real question is why are we so uncomfortable with talking about new ideas in this town- why does it still take a “herd to be heard”- why are we a city of sheep? Why do we tolerate the five bodies one brain commission we have now? Why is incumbency the main reason to endorse? The DDN did it again with the School Board- while ripping Joe Lacey a new one (the only one willing to break ranks with the rest of the board).

    Yes, I care. That’s why I keep running- and I keep refusing to sell out. The question is- do Dayton voters care? And what are you going to do to change their minds.

    I’m waiting to see the letter to the editor that doesn’t have any “yes, but’s in it” TG.

    Read my report on the DDN interview again- with 12 years on the commission between the two of them, they were hard pressed on saying anything other than we didn’t fail like Toledo.

  6. roxie September 20, 2009 / 11:52 pm
    David, David, David, I know it is hard to be humble, when you are perfert in everyway but learn to humble yourself. You are not a stupid mn but a man who needs to humble himself. I think when you master this skill you will become the person you want to be. I admit I am new to Dayton and friends have told me to read the blogs to find out all the “happenings” but this is “crazy”. I can’t vote for you because you just sound like a an “angry white man”. I will keep reading in the hope something changes.
  7. David Esrati September 20, 2009 / 11:55 pm

    @roxie- so it’s better to vote for stupid incumbents? Hmmm.

    Go read more of my site- then try to find some ideas on either Joey Williams or Nan Whaleys. Then try to engage in a conversation. Repeat.

    Btw- are you a racist?

  8. roxie September 21, 2009 / 12:05 am
    So am I a “Black racist” ot a ” “White racist”. David, David, David learn to humble yourself !!!!!
  9. David Esrati September 21, 2009 / 12:16 am


    You can’t run for office without a lot of self confidence. If you knew me- the way that TG does-or Loni does-

    you’d know better.

    And- as far as I’m concerned- you’re just a racist.

    I’m a human- you’re a human. The only thing that makes us all different is our IQ- and, sadly- anyone who call someone an “angry white man” who hasn’t met the person- is showcasing their intellectual stature quite clearly.

  10. roxie September 21, 2009 / 12:20 am
    silence is golden. Humor me David. i have to leave for work in thirty minutes so I have a little time to spare so tell me the “racist” who is David Estrati and why should I vote for him. Pretend you are standing at my door, the door of a “
  11. roxie September 21, 2009 / 12:23 am
    Sorry, I hit the wrong button. (but I can humble myself) Pretend you are at my door, The door of a “racist” and tell me why I should vote for you. Remember I have to leave for work in now 23 minutes.
  12. David Esrati September 21, 2009 / 12:28 am


    Because you can have this conversation with a city commissioner- and be assured that your voice will be heard. You’ll also know that I won’t take money in large amounts from special interest groups- or just plain crooks.

    I guarantee that City business will be conducted in the open, according to the Charter- no more “work sessions” where the real decisions are made.

    We’ll actually try to do some things differently – like scrap the priority boards left over from the seventies- and go to direct representation by neighborhood groups to the city manager.

    We’ll stop giving your tax dollars to private companies in the name of “economic development” and start providing services that make people want to live here.

    And- because I could answer this in 23 minutes- something I couldn’t hear from Joey or Nan in 90 minutes at the Dayton Daily News endorsement interview.

    Cheers. Thanks for your vote.

  13. roxie September 21, 2009 / 12:44 am
    Make it quick. Will you listen to me if I don’t agree with you or have a “more progressive thougth” or just call me stupid? ( Be humble) What’s with the decisions behind c;osed doors? What decisions?
    I don’t have a clue what you mean about priority boards do I will have to research that one. What happened to my tax dollars and what additional services can you get me ? Count down 12 minutes.
  14. roxie September 21, 2009 / 12:55 am
    David, David, David, this was interesting but I have to go. I will check back later. It’s been real. I think I will start calling myself “Roxie the Racist” because that was a first. Cheers.
  15. David Esrati September 21, 2009 / 7:10 am


    You judged me as an “angry white man” – without any knowledge of the issues. You made the declaration that you wouldn’t vote for me because I’m arrogant, yet you now admit you know almost nothing about our city issues. There are over 1100 posts here- talking about all these issues.

    The fact is- if you aren’t angered by these issues- you haven’t been paying attention.

    You should start by searching this site to learn about “work sessions”- “the Montgomery County Democratic Party Screening Committee” the “Wayne Avenue Kroger”  and maybe read up on “Sportsplex” and the “Walk to work tax credit”- and maybe for good measure- “sunshine laws” and “Pinewood Park”

    Then try “H1B visa” and “Dayton Public Schools” and….

    And, stop calling me “David, David, David”- you don’t know me well enough to pretend to have that much familiarity.

    One of the things I do allow is people to post under a “screen name” although I find it cowardly. Call yourself what you will- just use the same name consistently (and hopefully it’s not Jeff- we have at least 3 of them).

    I sign my name to everything I say. It’s a matter of integrity. If you can’t sign your name to it- you probably shouldn’t be saying it- and in your case, it’s now obvious that you had no idea of what you were saying.


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