Will Gary Leitzell become Mayor by default?

The dangers of carefully laid plans behind closed doors are about to be out in the open. Instead of screening candidates for Mayor and Commission the Montgomery County Democratic Party endorsed and forwarded only one candidate per seat for this year’s race.  This was the same thing they did with Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman.

This is done to dissuade others from running against the machine.  In fact, when they do screen, inevitably the question comes up:  “If you’re not endorsed will you withdraw from the race.”  All this serves to do is take choice away from voters- to concentrate power within the party.

It could have backfired with Ms. Lieberman last fall, had her DUI been closer to the election- propelling the only challenger, Mark Anthony Newberry, into office.

Primaries are supposed to be held to let the people decide who they want to run, then the party should endorse and back the leading candidate.  It’s what happens in presidential elections.

I spoke with James Greene III after it was announced that he didn’t make it on the ballot. He told me he had a plan and still had a hand in the process.  I’m pretty sure he had expected to have valid petitions though, and was hoping to be able to knock McLin out on the technicality, as we learn from today’s paper:

Two protests were filed late in the day Friday, March 13, at the Montgomery County Board of Elections regarding the Dayton mayoral race, board chairman Greg Gantt said.

The first was from Alvin Freeman who claimed that he was listed as a nominator for incumbent Mayor Rhine McLin, but said that he didn’t give the mayor permission to use his name and that he was instead a nominator for James Greene, who unsuccessfully sought a spot on the mayoral ballot. Candidate filings to run for Dayton offices were due last week.

Greene followed with a protest at the same time saying that McLin should be disqualified because she has no nominating committee, referencing the Freeman protest.

via Protests filed with elections board over McLin candidacy.

Rev. Freeman is a founding member of Concerned Christian Men, a group he and James Greene III co-founded years back. 

The charter calls for a nominating committee of five registered voters, whose only duty is to replace a candidate if he or she dies before the election.

(C) Each petition shall contain the names of five registered electors of the City who shall constitute the candidate’s nominating committee.  In the event of the death or withdrawal of the candidate prior to the primary election, the committee may, by vote of at least three of its members, nominate a registered elector to replace such candidate provided such nomination and acceptance thereof is made at least 45 days prior to the primary election.  In the event that a candidate dies or withdraws after a primary election has been held, he shall be replaced on the general ballot by the person who received the highest number of votes among those who failed to receive nomination at such primary.  If no primary election has been held and a candidate dies or withdraws, the Committee may, by vote of at least three of its members, nominate a registered elector of the City to replace such candidate on the general election ballot.  Such nomination and acceptance must be made no later than 45 days before the general election or special election to fill a vacancy pursuant to Section 5 of the Charter.

There doesn’t seem to be any language that suggests that a member of the committee couldn’t serve on both nominating committees, however, the charter does prescribe against signing more petitions than seats available in the general election. If Mr. Freeman signed both petitions, the typical process is to disqualify the one turned in second. Since Mr. Greene turned in his petition after Mayor McLin, the same rationale should apply.

The closest thing to a ruling on this is the actual petition language:

and 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.  We name as the nominating committee the five registered electors of the City of Dayton whose names and addresses appear below who shall have authority, as provided by the Charter to the City of Dayton, to nominate a candidate to replace the person named herein in the event that such person dies or withdraws his candidacy.

So apparently, Mr. Freeman’s position on both nominating petitions as a nominator isn’t invalid unless he signed both petitions.  If he only signed one, it’s not an issue.

I’m not a lawyer, or a legal scholar, but, I find it odd that the issue will first be debated by the Board of Elections, which is partisan and not even acknowledged in the charter.  Should the split be 2-2, it may go to the Secretary of State, who is again partisan, before possibly getting referred to a court.

If McLin is disqualified, and since no other candidate submitted enough signatures, Leitzell would be the sole candidate.  There is no provision in the charter for a write-in candidate.

Maybe the Montgomery County Democratic Party will learn a lesson from this, but it’s highly unlikely.  There are some chess-like end games with McLin resigning so other members of Commission could be named Mayor, but none would be able to run again in the fall, leaving them out in the cold- but giving McLin a chance to get back on the Commission in a Special Election.

Of course, she’ll have to get used to saying “Mayor Leitzell.”

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11 Responses

  1. Get A Grip March 14, 2009 / 11:36 pm
    “Mayor McLin” sounds just fine to me.
    We want the Mayor with a Heart.
    4 MORE YEARS! 4 MORE YEARS! 4 MORE YEARS!

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  2. ShortWest Rick March 15, 2009 / 12:33 am
    Actually David, if you review the verbage on your own petition, the undersigned who have not signed other petitions are among the 500 required. The nominating committee is comprised of five arbitrarly chosen registered voters who step in in the event of the candidate’s resignation or death. There is no requirement in the petition verbage or in the charter that the members of the nominating committee conscent to be members of said committee, sign off on it or restriction from them being members of another candidates nominating committee.

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  3. David Esrati March 15, 2009 / 12:40 am

    @SWRick- I agree, it would seem that you could have the same 5 people as every candidates nominating committee as long as they don’t sign more than the number of petitions for that office.
    However, had it been me, or Gary, who had turned in petitions with a name of someone who didn’t back us, I’m pretty sure we’d be disqualified.

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  4. ShortWest Rick March 15, 2009 / 12:53 am
    Oh David, I fully agree.

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  5. james March 15, 2009 / 1:53 pm
    Make a public record request and then you will get the facts.

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  6. Drexel Dave Sparks March 15, 2009 / 3:15 pm
    When can we expect to see Gary and David hitting the west side pulpit circuit?

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  7. Patrick Hayes March 16, 2009 / 4:27 pm
    Hey Dave, I left a comment about the mayoral race concerning bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks….I think they are both totally feasible right now. If the city puts even one or two bike lanes on streets that are adequate to support them right now the attitude from motorists towards cyclists will begin to change. Adding even ONE lane would legitimize the rights of cyclists to be on the road. Secondly, pedestrian cross walks would be even easier…just spray two lines on the road and put up a small yield sign on the sidewalk instructing motorists to stop for pedestrians. I understand that there is a monstrous amount of bureaucracy involved in getting anything done, especially in Dayton, but I think these measures would help shape the minds of citizens in Dayton. Also, is there any way to reduce traffic on sixth St. in the Oregon district to improve safety and walkability? Is there any thought towards districting downtown? how to shape blocks and encourage like minded businesses to open around places like the Shuster Center and Victoria Theatre?
    I think the Leaders of Dayton really need to focus on creating the image of Dayton being a LIVABLE city, a city of Neighborhoods and a place where you can find piece and quiet in an urban environment.

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  8. Patrick Hayes March 16, 2009 / 4:30 pm
    I have no love or hate for Rhine McLin but I do think that she is a public embarrassment to the city of Dayton

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  9. David Lauri March 16, 2009 / 4:59 pm
    I used to live on Sixth Street in the Oregon District and never had a problem with walkability on it. Sure, there’s a fair amount of traffic from people looking for parking spaces, but I never once considered it an unsafe street on which to walk.

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  10. David Esrati March 16, 2009 / 5:05 pm

    @patrick
    Everyone has their own agenda- bike lanes aren’t exactly wave a magic wand- and, I’d be more interested in getting end in parking done first (doubling the number of on street parking spaces).
    We had a “Town Center” program long ago- which helped Santa Clara business district sprout with life until the program cut funds off- and took away resources.
    There are a lot of things to do- all I can guarantee is that you’ll be able to stay informed better- and be a part of the solution if I’m elected.

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  11. Jeff Wellbaum March 30, 2009 / 11:29 am
    Mayor McLin’s Failed Leadership

    The city of Dayton is at a major crossroad in its history. We are experiencing difficult economic times in a changing economy, in a changing world. Forbes Magazine, last year named Dayton one of the fastest dying cities in the United States. Earlier this year the Dayton Daily News cited another Forbes ranking Dayton as one of the five emptiest U.S. cities. In addition another report stated that Montgomery County has lost 41.5% of its manufacturing jobs in the past seven years which is another example of the dire economic times we are in.

    Mayor McLin, who has been Mayor of Dayton for the past seven plus years, has had ample time to help create an environment which will retain and attract new manufacturing jobs and other types of jobs to Dayton and the Miami Valley. By not promoting a free market economy and being fiscally irresponisble she has led Dayton down a dark path of failure. She is too much of a tool of narrow Democratic Party dogma to be an effective leader. And Dayton suffers because of her dogmatic, narrow minded approaches. She has failed as a leader and has failed to inspire us with confidence. It is time for new leadership in Dayton. It is time for leadership for a 21st Century Dayton.

    President Obama, while on the campaign trail made one of a few good points while mentioning why the American people should not vote for McCain who he said is exactly like President Bush. Why should the American people keep making the same failed choices. While I do not agree with him on McCain being like President Bush. I say why should Daytonians keep making the same mistake. Why not give someone else a chance to be Mayor of our great city. I endorse Mr. Gary Leitzell, Chairman of the Southeast Dayton Priority Board and President of the Walnut Hills Neighborhood Association, to be our next Mayor. He is open minded, fair, and an independent who will not be caught up in party dogma. Gary Leitzell is the logical choice to be Mayor of Dayton. I encourage all Daytonians to vote for Leitzell for Mayor in November.

    Jeffrey L. Wellbaum

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