Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Run for Office in Dayton

If you would like to run for a seat on the Dayton City Commission or would like to run for the office of Mayor here in Dayton then let me tell you what you need to do in order to get on the ballot. The first hurdle you will run into is the requirement that you need 5 members of a nominating committee who are registered voters living in the City of Dayton. These five people have the duty to nominate a replacement for you if you should withdraw later in the game after getting on the ballot. They can be friends, acquaintances or family members but all must live in Dayton and be a registered voter. The next hurdle is the requirement that you get 500 qualified signatures from registered voters residing in the City of Dayton. This means that you need some 750 to 800 people to sign a pre-printed City of Dayton petition form that claim to be registered voters in Dayton. These forms can be collected at the City Commission Office or the Montgomery County Board of Elections. You will have to sign for them and the Board of Elections is charged with giving you additional information regarding campaign finance.
The form is awkward in its wording and is difficult to understand how to complete the top section. The following picture is from one of my forms showing how to fill the blanks.

The back of the form is a little easier. Whoever collects the signatures has to fill the upper part out and get their signature notarized before the forms can be submitted to the Board of Elections.

You need only fill out one form and then you may make photo copies of it and use those copies as your petition forms.

Now you need to collect the signatures and you have until the end of February to get them. I wrote a post back in 2009 when I ran the first time that explains the best way to do this. Some of that information is reinforced in this post. There was no one helping me or coaching me back then on how to do this. Maybe this information can help you. The process will require at least 75 hours of spare time and there is a right way and many wrong ways to go about getting the signatures you need. Going door to door with the voter walking lists that the Board of Elections can provide for you as a .pdf file, will yield on average 10 signatures an hour. If you attend a neighborhood meeting and get ten people to sign it you are doing good but in many cases you will get just three or four. Expect people to ask you questions like "Why are you doing this?" and "What can you actually do to make things better for me?"

Start getting signatures as soon as possible. It is easier to get them during warm weather when the days are longer than in the middle of February when it is 10 degrees outside. People don't like to open their doors to strangers when it is dark out either.

Make certain that people sign their names like they do when they go to vote. If one person prints their name, everyone else you ask will print their name beneath it and their signatures will not be valid. Expect people to tell you they are registered to vote when in fact they are not. Have them sign anyway but go and get at least 150 to 200 more signatures than you need as a safety cushion. When people are hesitant, remind them that you are not asking them to vote for you at this time. You are asking them to help you get on the ballot so that you are one of their choices.

Generally, people running for re-election would not provide you with this information. They tend to not want competition so as to assure their ability to be re-elected. Not me. I support the system and feel that if more people knew about how it works then we would actually produce better public officials. Competition makes me want to do the best I can to support the people who elect me. The lack of competition or being assured a majority vote along party lines will produce a mediocre candidate who only has to perform at a minimum level to get elected.
Once you are on the ballot you need to raise some money to pay for signs, literature and any type of advertising you need in order to get elected. I am willing to limit my spending to $10,000 cash and $10,000 "in kind" donations which should help level the playing field for every candidate for this next election cycle. There is really no point in trying to raise any money for your campaign until you are on the ballot unless you have other political aspirations or are already a career politician lining your so called "War Chest.".

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Challenges

See this picture? This is the problem with our country right now, I am not happy with the way our two party system is acting out and unfortunately I believe that we are losing the respect of the rest of the world. I look at how much of other people's money is being wasted on pathetic negative advertising that has become absolutely ineffective because the general populace has become sick and tired of this behavior. If all that money were spent on education, small business development or health care we would ALL be better off. There are three ways to end the madness created by our politicians. One is to stop the gerrymandering of districts so that any political candidate is not guaranteed a seat for life. Two is to create a third, fourth or fifth party so that the majority parties court the centralist groups in order to get legislation passed and the third way is to limit campaign spending. I have often stated that ANY politician should not have to spend more than one years salary in order to get elected. After all, in government we are challenged to do the best with the budget that we have. Asking for more money without just cause should never be a solution.
Few people remember or are aware of the fact that I became mayor of the City of Dayton on just $17,600 and some $5000 worth of "in kind" services which most consisted of rent free office space and some printing services by a local business. The two parties believe that they have to win at "all costs" and trust me, it is costing dearly. I do not believe that I need to spend any where near that much money this time around. I certainly do not need to gain name recognition. So, let me lay down this challenge because I know full well the two parties will never issue the same. I will NOT spend more than $10,000 cash and $10,000 "in kind" to get re-elected and I challenge any KNOWN political challenger to match the same. I would offer ANY unknown candidate the limit of $20,000 cash and $10,000 "in kind" in the same race because that is still more than I spent against a two term incumbent, super delegate of the democratic party in a non - partisan local election. I am willing to level the playing field because I know that it is the right thing to do. Maybe it will send a message to our State and Federal Governments that "We the people" are no longer content to sit and watch our elected officials contribute to the demise of the greatest nation on Earth! So, here in Dayton, let the games begin and may the BEST CANDIDATE win!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

In December 2008  when I decided to announce that I was running for public office as the mayor of Dayton I wrote the following paragraph;

Why am I doing this? - Someone has to do the job. I feel that I am the perfect candidate. I don't work for an employer that is affiliated with a political party so I have no pressure steering me at work. I can do almost anything I please besides run for mayor. I have many talents and much entrepreneurial experience. I am not a lawyer or a developer with ulterior motives. My only motivation is to create a better Dayton for my 5 year old daughter to experience as she grows up. I'm not wanting a political career and don't plan on running again in four more years unless the voters want me to.

If you read the entire post from almost 4 years ago you will realize that much of what I stated then has begun to happen and it has made a big difference in the region.

So for the last several months I have been asked by dozens of people, maybe even as many as a hundred, if I was willing to run for office again. I would always reply with the question "What would you like me to do?" The answer from every single person was "Yes! You need to do another term." One person, who is a very loyal member of the democratic party flattered me with "I may not vote for you but I would like you to be one of my options."

I am still an independent candidate with no party affiliation.  I am still committed to making Dayton better for my now 9 year old daughter and I continue to uphold my oath of office and perform my duties as Mayor with fairness and impartiality. Yesterday I published a list of 62 things that have happened since I became the Mayor of Dayton. The extent of this list lets me know that I have made a difference to my community and I know I have the support of the citizens.  I was elected on a certain day in history by the majority of voters to represent the majority of the residents of Dayton. It appears at this moment in time that the overwhelming majority of the people that I speak with support what I am doing and want it to continue, so I am willing to go through the process of getting re-elected. This comes with certain challenges. Many of which I, as an independent really do disagree with. So let's talk about challenges in my next post!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Has Been Happening Lately?

It seems that there is so much activity going on in the City of Dayton these days. Some things like new bridges, highways and schools take years and years of planning so I would like to remind people about what was going on before 2010.

Things from before 2010
Kroc Center Built
Three new bridges
26 New schools started or built
Dayton Rec plex opened and two rec centers remodeled
Bike ways
Urban agriculture initiative
Land Bank being organized
MVH Heart Hospital being constructed
RTA moved transfer station
Phoenix project
CIRGV initiative started.
Greater Downtown Plan discussion started.
Canopy constructed at Riverscape.
Then there were a couple of really bad things that made lots of news and they were

NCR left
Forbes Magazine labelled us the 10th most dying city in the U.S.

However, since January 2010 we have really kicked up the pace around here and there have been many things happening. Some are small and relatively petty like the parking lines painted on the street in South Park, though these have a huge impact for the businesses near them because customers know they can park on the street. Some are huge and we sometimes forget them like GE Aviation and the Welcome Dayton Plan
which are two things that put us on the global radar screen and have gotten Dayton much national press. Here are 62 things listed that have happened since January 2010 that were not happening before that time. I am certain the list is greater than this but I can't think of them all. In the mean time there are ongoing plans for new road repairs and new bridges. Bike paths are still being planned and built and the Land Bank is starting to evolve into something that should benefit the entire region. Vacant houses continue to get demolished and we continue to push harder to become a greener city.

Now the interesting question to ask is this; When in the last 40 years have you seen this many things happen in just a three year period?

Things since 2010

GE Aviation building planned, ground breaking within a year and at time of writing nearing completion.

UD Housing on Brown Street. Planned, nearing completion.

UD acquisition of NCR.

Charlie Simms Housing units started in 2011– all sold in 12 months.

Charlie Simms now adding 7 more units in Fairgrounds neighborhood.

More housing units are being developed in Downtown.

Excelsior lofts development in Oregon District.
Kindred Hospital. Building acquired, remodeled and open for business.

Keye Ads relocated to Downtown.

Pop-Up Shops around Downtown.

Welcome Dayton Immigrant Friendly initiative.

Mediation committee formed to proactively create dialogue with the community and  Asian/Arab owned retail businesses.

Decrease in crime at the same time as a decrease in police.

Changes in Media reporting – DDN and Channel 2.

3 Year Union Contracts – all contracts previously were 1 yr.

Oregon district Rule of 17 resolved after 18 years.

Panhandling was dealt with.

More restaurants and coffee shops locating downtown.

New businesses opening on W. 3rd St. and Brown St.

Belmont Business association re established and district is growing.

New Hope Enclave Neighborhood group formed and issues resolved with MV Hospital.

East Dayton Business group starting to form.

300% increase in recycling since 2009 and $0 cost to dispose.

Recycle lottery every month.

Commission Agenda online viewable to the public BEFORE a meeting.

Emergency ordinances moved to a two part process.

Facebook likes grew from 1000 to 11,100. And still growing.

Increase communication with the public through social media.

Crime stats online.

Pay water bills and fines online.

Report crimes online when no suspect info is available.

Renewed entertainment at Courthouse Square in summer.

Riverscape Kayak Feature funds were raised from  private sector.

Revived the “Know Dayton Sell Dayton” program and proactively present to real estate offices.

Do it Yourself pilot for housing inspection.

Domestic Partner Registry.

Webster Street Outdoor Market.

Enterprising the City Lime Kiln.

Developed more efficient tracking using RFID technology.

Better Customer Service from all over City Hall. 

Finance and treasury departments at the City of Dayton awarded ISO 9001 status.

City has Self Insured Health Insurance.

Municipal Employee Appreciation week then expanded to include the region.

Occupy Dayton ended peacefully.

Goodwill Industries Expansion.

NCAA First Four Festival.

Community Police Relations council.

Penn National Race Track.

Parking lines on streets in South Park.

Increase in public art.

Building Permitting options to speed up process.

Grandview Hospital Expansion.

Carillon Park improvements.

Saint Anne's Hill co op brew pub fastest growing in the country.

Labelled most affordable city by Forbes in 2012.

3rd best city in U.S. for increasing home prices 2012.

2nd best mid sized city for the arts.

Increase in population since the 2010 census and first positive population increase in 40 years.

Sold a city phone number for $$ and incentivized business to locate in Dayton. That is creative thinking!

Dayton Fashion Week.

Dayton Revival Festival.

Reuse of Memorial Hall for events.

Things to come
More new Businesses
More development in Downtown
Brew pubs
Oregon District street party events to mimic NCAA event
Larger crowds are coming downtown for events
More new bridges 
More road improvements
More support for citizens to make a difference!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Press Conference Speech Regarding Our Trip to Turkey

We are here to report about our fruitful trip to Turkey.

Within 7 hours of our arrival the purpose of our trip was being presented on Turkish national television on their version of the " Morning Show" called Yeni Gun. We met with the deputy prime minister of Turkey the vice minister of foreign affairs, the minister of internal affairs, the governor of Bursa province, mayors of Ankara, Bursa and the municipality of Buyukcekmece near Istanbul. We also met with the principle officers of the Ankara, Bursa and Istanbul chambers of commerce as well as the leaders of the business organization known as Musiad. The rectors of the of Gazi University, Mamara University and AREL University welcomed us as well as directors of numerous cultural organizations. We even met with the U.S. Consular General, Scott Kilner who indicated that our purpose was exactly what the White House was hoping to see happen regarding U.S./Turkey relations and we were not only doing something that was cutting edge but also ahead of the curve.
So, now that we are back I can describe what was accomplished in our intense week long trip. When we left Dayton we wanted to create a relationship with the Turkish government at many levels, as well as educational facilities and cultural organizations. I mentioned that we also met with three major chambers of commerce. We are coming back with two signed memorandums of understanding between the University of Dayton, Wright State University and both Marmara and ATEL Universities located in Istanbul.
This was an expeditionary trip designed to create opportunities at many levels. So, what else was achieved? What I can tell you is that the state of Bursa is interested in creating a sister state relationship with the state of Ohio. The Chambers of commerce in the cities of Ankara, Bursa and Istanbul are extremely eager to create business relations with the United States as is Musiad organization. Their chamber organizations are willing to offer us office space. We also learned that our very own Cargill Corporation already has a presence in Bursa.
The similarities between all three Turkish cities and Dayton are truly uncanny. We have the same types of business here as they do in each of the three major cities. The only real difference is that they have way more than we do here in Dayton because populations are significantly higher.
Now the work must begin. In order to facilitate international investment we, as a region must come together and create a fund to receive international guests in an appropriate manner. Our municipalities, learning institutions, medical facilities and economic development entities and even the State of Ohio should contribute equally so that we can receive guests from any country in a similar manner to how we were received in Turkey. While we were away our very own Dayton Development Coalition has been working on the EB-5 program which will still take some time to finalize. However, we have jump started the process by creating an interest in the country of Turkey. It is possible that we will see business people from that country wanting to experience Dayton as soon as September this year.
Why Turkey? Very simple. While America has the worlds largest economy, Turkey has the fastest growing economy. Here in Dayton the Ahiska population has more than doubled in two and a half years. Ten percent of the total Ahiska refugee population of the United States is right here in the heart of America. It only makes sense to encourage business relationships with their mother country since we already have a work force that speaks the native language making the transition for any Turkish business that much easier. I wish to thank the members of our Turkish Expeditionary Team ......

Joyce Sutton Cameron, Mayor of Trotwood, William Flaute, Mayor of Riverside, Lila Ivanovska, Robert Murray, Islom Shakhbandarov, Anthony Whitmore, Johnathon Metz, Joseph Saliba, Steven Foster, Khurshid Ahmad, Media Jyawook, Celal Shahin and Sonya Ulfanova.

I believe we would all admit that we have returned with great knowledge, greater understanding and fantastic opportunity. Thank you,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

State of the City Speech - May 10, 2012


It’s good to be here with you tonight at Belmont High School.

This $31.9 million world class facility was dedicated in December 2011 and serves to remind us that the citizens of Dayton value education. In the year since my last State of the City speech, Dayton Public Schools has celebrated the on-time, on-budget completion of its decade-long $627 million construction program to build 26 new schools for Dayton’s students.

I want to thank Belmont administrator David White and Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Lori Ward for hosting us tonight. Thank you both so much for all you do for this community.

I also want to welcome our guests, Montgomery County Commissioners (name those present).

Last year when we all met at the Kroc Center, I laid out five basic facts to describe the state of our city.

They were-- #1 "We are on our own." #2: Dayton must reinvent itself to survive and thrive. #3: If we’re going to get anything done, we need to work together. #4: Dayton is evolving and #5: Dayton will prosper.

So tonight I want to review the events and changes of the last 12 months to chart just how far we’ve come in just one year and why we need to remain confident in our future.

In Dayton, we are still very much on our own. State and Federal funds continue to be cut from our budget, forcing us and cities all across this nation to make sacrifices.

But we have embraced the reality of this situation, and that has led us to prosper even under adverse financial conditions. Even with a severely slashed budget, we have responded with creativity and innovation and not by falling back on harsh service cuts seen in previous times.

Trash still gets picked up. Police officers and firefighters have not been laid off. Festivals and fireworks still go on as scheduled. Because we’re being smarter with our money, we ended 2011 with an unexpected surplus. Believe me, that constitutes bragging rights. We’ve been able to take those extra funds and apply them to our blight removal efforts and technology improvements.

The really great thing about generating our own revenue is that we get to decide how to spend it. The money does not come with strings attached or copious amounts of restrictions on how it can be used. I have often said that we need to find ways to generate our own funds so we are less reliant on monies from the state or federal governments, which have proven to be unreliable in current times.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan for all of his hard work and financial wisdom. Tim, thanks to you and your hard-working staff, for helping lead us back to the road of prosperity.

One year ago I spoke of how we need to reinvent ourselves to survive and thrive. And this is clearly being done. They say that risk is commensurate with reward. Well, we have taken some risks and the rewards have been great. They also didn't cost much money.

The Welcome Dayton plan was formulated at a time when the word “immigrant” was being translated to mean something negative or threatening in many states and regions across this nation. But in Dayton, we saw an opportunity. The citizens of the Dayton region who volunteered to make the Welcome Dayton plan a reality discussed the issue and decided to clearly make it known that Dayton was to be an "immigrant friendly" city.

Last year when we launched this project, we had no idea that those two simple words — Welcome Dayton — would launch us to national and international acclaim. Our Welcome Dayton plan put us on the world’s radar, and we attracted not only news coverage from around the globe but inquiries from foreign citizens requesting more information. I personally received emails and phone calls from citizens in France, South Africa and Nigeria, all interested in relocating to Dayton. So tonight we owe much gratitude to the more than 100 people who helped create this plan. Obviously, we cannot acknowledge everyone individually, but if you were part of the Welcome Dayton Plan committee, would you please rise? Thank you so much for helping make Dayton an example of what being a progressive city is all about.

By adopting this long-term strategy, Dayton will attract more residents and grow its small business base. It’s been proven time and time again that foreign-born nationals demonstrate greater entrepreneurial spirit because they see opportunity that others may not. When a person has the American Dream, they will find a way to succeed. And that American Dream is alive and well in Dayton, Ohio.

I’d like to acknowledge Mr. Islom Shakhbandarov of the Ahiska Turkish Community Center for working with and assisting the more than 300 Ahiska Turkish families that now call Dayton home. Islom, your leadership and love for America is truly inspiring and we could not have done this without you. Thank you.

Someone who really understands the goals of the Welcome Dayton Plan is City Commissioner Matt Joseph. Through his work with Sister Cities International, he has served as one of Dayton’s finest diplomats. Long before this plan was drafted, Commissioner Joseph was following its core principles and making new citizens feel welcome. Commissioner Joseph, thank you for all that you do for this city. It is a pleasure to work with you. Please stand up and be recognized.

Sometimes, in the midst of everyday life, something extraordinary happens. Something that forces us to put aside convention and shine the light of truth upon topics that were once considered too taboo to discuss. Commissioner Joey Williams recently did something remarkable that could be hailed as the best attempt in decades to bring closer our Police Department and the community it serves. He put together a group of diverse, dedicated people—the Community-Police Council that was able to openly discuss perceptions, reality and trust issues related to the working relationship between the police and Dayton’s neighborhoods. With the help of our Human Relations Council these ongoing meetings have led to some of the most positive strides yet made in improving the relationship and understanding between our safety forces and the community.

Also, a warrior in the fight for safe neighborhoods and improved relations between neighborhoods and Police is the legendary Commissioner Dean Lovelace, who for almost two decades has been working tirelessly for the citizens of Dayton.

Tonight, I’d to thank Commissioner Joey Williams and Commissioner Dean Lovelace for working so hard to make Dayton a strong, united city. Gentlemen, please stand up and be recognized.

These two examples demonstrate our willingness to recognize a need in the community and take an active leadership role in fulfilling that need. We are truly blessed to have so many citizens and community leaders committed to finding enterprising ways to facilitate future success for the City.

Commissioner Nan Whaley is one such leader. Commissioner Whaley was part of an independent group that formed very quickly and successfully implemented the concept of a street festival in the Oregon District centered around the NCAA First Four basketball tournament that has been hosted in Dayton for two and will be again in 2013. The one day event, sanctioned by the NCAA and officially named the NCAA First Four Festival will always be known as the "Big Hoopla" to this group of founders. Not only was the event a great success in terms of attendance, it also opened the eyes and minds of many people of influence, to ensure that more events of this nature can be held in Dayton in the future. Commissioner Whaley can't be here tonight but even in her absence, I want to thank her for her outstanding leadership and dedication to this community.

Commissioner Williams and Commissioner Whaley also saw an opportunity to resolve a long-standing issue in the Oregon District and helped bring together the business community and the residential communities in the process. After 18 long years, a solution was formulated in a matter of weeks and the Fifth St. business district is set to thrive and attract even more new businesses in the coming years.

Last year, I made it clear that if we were going to get anything done we needed to put aside political differences and work together. And, I am happy to say, we have done an excellent job at working together for the benefit of our citizens.

Because of this emphasis on teamwork, customer service is continuously improving at City Hall. Our main phone line – 333-4800 – now takes calls for a variety of service needs and has reduced the wait time for citizen calls. Water bills can now be paid online and up-to-date crime statistics can now be viewed by neighborhood at www.daytonohio.gov.

In the film “Wall Street,” actor Michael Douglas famously said ‘the most valuable commodity I know of is information.’ And we have successfully continued to make information more complete and transparent for our citizens. The City of Dayton Facebook page now has 9,400 “Likes,” compared to just 1,000 in 2010. Many of the local media stations with a broader audience have far less than this, and the local paper has just 4,400 more. The wonderful thing about this brave new world of social networking is that it’s free. 100% free. This gives us the ability to communicate with our citizens instantly and effectively — and at absolutely zero cost to the taxpayer. This allows us to communicate events and public relations information to these citizens the instant the information is released and even several times a day as needed. If you have not yet joined the City of Dayton’s Facebook page or visited the City of Dayton online, I urge you to do so at daytonohio.gov.

Dayton’s progress can also be seen in our recycling efforts. In 2009, the City collected around 170 tons a month of recyclable materials and paid $14 a ton to dispose of them. This time last year we were approaching 400 tons a month. Today we average over 500 tons a month and there is no disposal fee. That means that we are saving $19,000 every month in tipping fees at the landfill.

But now it is time to push a little harder. So, I pose these questions. Working together, why not form a coalition of municipalities and institutions that supplies 3000 tons of recyclables to recycling companies and have them pay us for the materials? Could the revenue generated be used for environmentally friendly economic development incentives instead of tax payer dollars?

For many years, Dayton was not ready for a do-it-yourself culture. But now, we are finding that communities and neighborhoods are embracing this idea, taking more responsibility for the quality of life in their own back yards. Community cleanups are being organized on a scale like we have never seen before. Citizens are learning how to organize these clean ups and how to access free resources to help. They are coordinating efforts with the City so that we can remove collected trash from the curb. People are claiming back their neighborhoods from the neglect of greedy landlords or unresponsive banks or mortgage holders by cutting grass on vacant properties, or devising ways to get it cut if they cannot do it themselves.

The idea of creating residential Special Improvement Districts was presented by my neighborhood association in 2007 and is now being considered in several Dayton neighborhoods as a means to protect those quality of life issues that so many of us see as being important. They are looking into self imposed assessments in order to establish special improvement districts so that neighborhood associations can address blight and improvement plans with the financial resources they need and provided by their very own residents. Mr. William Pace is leading this effort as president of the Mt. Vernon Neighborhood Association and I wish him luck.

In school, we are taught that evolution and change take a long time. However, if some very beneficial trends arise simultaneously, then the process naturally speeds up. Tonight, I can stand here and tell you this — Dayton is evolving, and the process is speeding up.

In addition to neighborhoods stepping up to the plate with self-leadership, we see rapidly growing renewed interest in downtown Dayton as a place for entertainment, as a place to live and as place to do business. A new generation of entrepreneurs and retailers are setting up shop downtown. Events such as the NCAA Tournament and Urban Nights have added to the downtown rebound. And, this September, a major music event, the Downtown Dayton Revival Festival, will bring national headliners — including Dayton’s legendary Guided By Voices — to three stages on our city streets.

Do you want proof that Downtown Dayton is experiencing a serious growth spurt? Look no further than to Mr. Charlie Simms, who is with us tonight. One year ago this suburban developer took a risk on Dayton. He wanted to build 18 townhouses over several years. I asked him how he thought he would do. He replied that he expected to sell three units over the next 12 months and maybe he could get the first eight built. Less than a year later, he has 15 of the 18 units sold and he is almost finished with the entire project.

And there is more of this growth coming. Last year, I asked several of our state legislators to look into why Dayton had no breweries and to question state laws that established prohibitive licensing fees. I must not have been the only person questioning this because the fee was reduced by half and I have been told that there may be as many as five brew pubs opening in the area by early next year. More evidence that the evolution is happening, and that Dayton is running more and more at the speed of business, rather than at the speed of bureaucracy.

Last year at this time, GE Aviation had just broken ground on its $51 million Dayton project, which will create an estimated 200 new jobs – very high quality jobs, by the way. I would encourage all of you to drive by today and see evolution in action, at the corner of Patterson Boulevard and Stewart Street. I hope we will be holding this event in that facility at this time next year.

For further evidence of Dayton’s evolution, consider this — for a few years, Forbes magazine included Dayton in its annual lists of dying or miserable cities. Yet, while three Ohio cities made this year’s Most Miserable Cities list, Dayton was not among them. Now, suddenly, Dayton is considered a “progressive” city, a change we made simply by changing our attitude and approach to business. We were able to break through the belief and barrier that says we need big money from outside in order to generate change.

Now that those outside Dayton increasingly view the city as being “progressive,” we are attracting even more attention. Press Coffee, a locally owned cafĂ© on Wayne Avenue, was named by Zagat as one of the 10 Coolest Independent Coffee Shops In America. Local business owner Hilary Browning of Thistle Confections is attracting national praise for her handcrafted baked goods that she sells at downtown’s 2nd Street Market and via mail to customers throughout the country. This is grassroots, small business evolution in action.

Let's also consider all the new businesses that have opened within the last year — in the Oregon District, we have Basho Apparel, Lucky’s Tavern and Roost Italian restaurant. Planet Smoothie, Fusian Sushi, and J. Gumbo’s along the Brown Street business corridor. Rene’s Gourmet Creations, and the new Hospice center in the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood. There are many more throughout the city and the Belmont Business District just up the street is beginning to experience a new evolution.

The vast majority of new jobs are now created by small businesses and these are but a few examples that prove that Dayton’s economy is indeed on the move. We need to continue to market ourselves in a positive way and we need our citizens to realize that there is more good happening here than bad. We have now evolved into a city where people now tell me that there is too much to do in Dayton — talk about a great problem to have.

The City of Dayton is working hard to set the stage for those who are choosing to live, play and work in the center city. We have dedicated millions of dollars to street resurfacing this year and to aggressively seek funding from outside sources for major infrastructure needs. By the end of this year we will see major improvements to a number of our major thoroughfares. Already Brown Street, Patterson Blvd. and the Great Miami Blvd. are lined with orange barrels and construction equipment. These enhancements will create the welcoming environment for business and neighborhood growth.

This year, I appreciate the media more than I have in the past, because it seems they are evolving too. Channel 2 hosts the mid-day show “Living Dayton,” which puts a positive spin on the things happening around us. The Dayton Daily News has experienced a change in staff and thus a change in style that places accuracy before opinion and loyalties, and I know that many as well as myself really appreciate the change. With the media working with us and not at us, we can continue evolving into the world class city that we becoming at an even faster rate. Instead of being a bad city where some good things happen, the reality is we are a GREAT CITY where, just like anywhere else, some bad stuff occurs. If everyone starts to accept this we will evolve much faster and attract more businesses, jobs, people and excitement.

How we all market ourselves, the city and this region is important because it will determine the end result. There is a saying in sales that I heard 20 years ago—“If you think you can, you will. If you think you can't, you're right.”

But let me be clear on one thing — I get just as frustrated as all of you at how slow progress and change can be. I am not going to stand here and paint you a picture of Dayton that is all sunshine and roses. It’s not. I don’t like it any more than you that we can’t run out and knock down every single vacant, burnt-out house in our neighborhoods. I have two derelict houses behind my home and one burned out across the street that even I can’t get torn down. I don’t like it that there are citizens in this city who still cannot find a good paying job. But the thing we all have to remember is that real, lasting change takes time.

Most economists predict it’s going to take at least five to ten years for our nation’s employment to return to the level it was at before the Great Recession. But after decades of decline, Dayton is on the rebound. Believe it. We are moving forward. Things are happening. We just need to maintain our present course — because it’s working. We need to make sure our economic base is fertile enough for businesses to grow and expand by not bogging them down with red tape. We need to work together to ensure our neighborhoods are safe and clean by recommitting ourselves to block watch programs and cleanups. And you, the citizens, need to understand that Dayton is your city. We don’t run it — you do.

We work hard every day to provide you with Police and Fire services and streets to drive on, but it’s largely up to you to take it from there.

I recently opened my dictionary and looked up the word ‘prosperity.’ The word is defined as “Prosperous state or condition; successful progress; success.” Let me say this. If we take the five facts that I laid out last year and we 1) accept that we have to take care of ourselves without relying on outside influences that we have no control over, 2)Continue to reinvent ourselves and never stop doing it, 3) Work together for common goals and not at each other just to see the other side fail, 4) take advantage of those traits that will speed up progress and not dwell on those that will not, and 5) believe that success will breed more success.

Charlie Simms is prospering, so what does he want to do? Prosper some more and contribute to the greater success of Dayton. That will inspire others to do the same. Tomorrow is Urban Nights. If you have never been, you need to. If you are afraid of Downtown, don't be. Not tomorrow. Go and see what a vibrant successful city looks like and tell me afterwards that you would never want to see that every week.

If we continue to push forward and continue to create activity, then the success and prosperity will be the natural result of hard work. Always remember, no one ever wants to ride the coattails of failure and we saw too much of this in the past. Moving forward will certainly be interesting, because people come from far and wide to share in the good times when success has been achieved.

Ladies and gentlemen, the success of Dayton depends on you. You are the true leaders of this community. You are the workers who drive this economy. You are the ones who hold the true power to determine if Dayton sinks or swims. I believe in this city. And I believe in you. And I believe that we are making great strides in returning Dayton to her former splendor as one of America’s most innovative cities. Tonight, let us pledge to continue to work together as we continue to move our city forward.

Thank you and God bless.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Policy and Proceedure

It is funny but when you are "Independent" and not affiliated with either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party and you are the mayor, you are held to a much higher standard than any of your predecessors ever were. Expectations of your achievements are greater. Since this is a presidential election year the daggers are already starting to emerge. The Democrats are already questioning what I have done in two and a half years. I was told that I am a good ribbon cutter but I have done nothing policy wise. My reply was quick and to the point. "Do you think we would have Internet access to commission agendas, police reports or the ability to pay water bills and fines online? What about increasing recycling efforts, the Welcome Dayton plan, municipal employee appreciation week, a push for housing and more entertainment downtown? Have you noticed a change in the way some of our media outlets are reporting the news? How about GE Aviation? I suspect they would be anywhere else but Dayton had I not been elected in 2009." None of this took new policies or rewriting old ones. After all a policy is a piece of paper that outlines what should happen and often it gets in the way of real progress. In 2009 Dayton was called a dying city. Two years later it is a progressive city. Just because I don't brag about my role in many of these changes does not mean that I didn't have some role to play. In most cases the role is simply to influence and inspire others to do their very best at making positive things happen. I focus on results and not who gets the credit. Right now in Dayton I would say that we are getting results. Policy and procedure will never generate quick results. Taking action does. So the next time I hear that I have done nothing around policy, I can say that people who focus on devising policy before taking action end up being caretakers. I am simply a producer of results. Besides, policy is easier to develop around results versus speculation!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Third Year and Now Region Wide!

Dayton Mayor Gary D. Leitzell has announced details of the third annual Municipal Employee Appreciation Week, running Sunday, April 1, through Saturday, April 7, 2012. During this week, municipal and public employees of local governments throughout the region will receive special discounts at a variety of local businesses when they show their ID badges. Participating businesses include:

Airway Billiards, 2611 Needmore Road—10% on food
All Cuts Barber Shop, 3405 West Siebenthaler Avenue—10% discount
Angel Heaven, 11 N. Miami Street West Milton—10% discount
Baker’s Heating & Cooling, 2500 N. Main Street—10% discount
Barnsider Restaurant, 5202 N Main Street —15% discount (April 1 only)
Butler’s Concrete LLC, 937-835-3194 or 937-307-3856—10% discount
Cachet-G! E., 133 E. Third St.—10 to 20 % discount on regular priced items excluding cosmetics
Champion Auto Service, 1524 Milburn Ave.—10% discount
Christopher’s Restaurant, 2318 E. Dorothy Lane—10% discount
Color Tile and Carpets Plus, 3609 Linden Ave.—10% discount
Computer MD, 937-436-2972/937-604-5452—10% discount
Desserts By Ann K, 600 E. Second Street—10% discount
Dayton Grand Hotel, 11 S. Ludlow Street—10% discount on rooms
Dublin Pub, 300 Wayne Ave.—10% discount
Randall Dwillis Massage Therapy, 8529 N.Dixie Dr.--$10 off massage services
Ghostlight Coffee, 1201 Wayne Ave.—free size upgrade (coffee and tea)
Goodyear Tire, 21 Otterbein Ave.—10% discount
Goodyear Tire, N. Main Street—10% discount
J Gumbo’s, 1822 Brown Street—10% discount
Main Hardware, 3016 N. Main Street—10% discount
Mary Ann’s Kitchen, 3651 Salem Ave.—10% discount
Mendelson’s, 340 E. 1st St.—10% discount
Ohio Automatic Transmission, 3164 Salem Ave.—10% discount
Patterson Chase, 460 Patterson Road—15% discount
Pepito’s, 2412 Catalpa; 3618 Wilmington Pike—10% discount
Price Clothing Store, 4th & S. Jefferson St.—10% off on men’s clothing
Rut’s Eatery, 32 James H. McGee Blvd.—10% discount
St. Anne’s Violin Shoppe, 1500 E. Fifth Street—20% discount
Smokin’ Bar-B-Que, 200 E Fifth Street—10% discount
Submarine House, 3598 Salem Ave.—10% discount
Top Of The Line Salon & Barber, 2836 Salem Ave.—10% discount
Top of The Market, 32 Webster St.—10% discount
Towe’s & Associates CPA’s, 415 S. Miami St., West Milton—25% discount
Uno’s Chicago Bar & Grill, 126 N. Main St.—15% discount
Upper Deck Tavern, 2652 Blanchard Ave.—10% discount on all entrees
Xclusive Cuts, 4321 N. Main St.—10% discount

This particular week was chosen because Dayton was settled on April 1, 1796.

“Employee Appreciation Week is a way of acknowledging the hard-working men and women who serve the citizens of this community,” Mayor Leitzell said. “Dayton’s small business community really stepped up to show our local government employees how much their work is appreciated, whether it’s plowing streets during the winter, filling potholes in spring, patrolling neighborhoods, or addressing citizen concerns. We hope this small gesture—which won’t cost taxpayer’s a cent—conveys a big ‘thank you’.”

During this time, Mayor Leitzell asks all citizens to show their appreciation for the entire region's civil service workers by waving and saying “thank you.”

Municipal Employee Appreciation Week was put together with the assistance of Mr. William Pace, volunteer public liaison to the Mayor.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Keeping Up

It was always my intention to keep up regular posts on this sight but it seems that my time is extremely limited these days. My wife and I still home educate our daughter, the house repairs have slowed down tremendously but are still happening and this part time Mayor role still absorbs an average of 30 hours a week. In reality it is more, because whenever I am out in public, including grocery shopping, I am at work because people recognize me and want to talk.

The big event this past week was the visit to by two of the most powerful people in the free world. We had the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom arrive at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Air Force One as part of a diplomatic visit. The President wanted to take Prime Minister Cameron to the NCAA First Four basketball game on opening night at the University of Dayton Arena.

I was one of only six dignitaries invited to greet the pair as they exited the airplane. We had the Governor of Ohio, an Air force four star general, a three star general, a colonel, the mayor of Cincinnati and myself lined up to shake hands and make small talk with the two VIPs.
So everyone wants to know what we talked about. Not much I am afraid. I simply welcomed the pair to Dayton and acknowledged that they had arrived in excellent weather. I also stated that I hoped that they would enjoy the basketball game. The President made a comment about this being a good region to the Prime Minister who confessed to me that he had never been to see a basketball game before so this was a new experience for him.

Following this event I attended the Niagara Foundation Abrahamic Traditions dinner event at the Turkish American Society facility at 2601 E. Fourth St. I had committed to attending this event several weeks earlier and I am known in the community for keeping appointments that I commit to.

Some have criticized me for not going to the basket ball game with the president. Well, the truth is this. The White House could only secure a certain number of seats at the game for the visit, the secret service, students and the governor were invited. I was not provided a ticket. So I certainly did not brush off the President. The citizens at the dinner event certainly did not expect me to show up, but I did as promised. The citizens of Dayton employ me. Not the White House.