Growing up in Dayton, I got to be very familiar with all of the policies, government leadership, and popular opinions. Since Dayton is in a swing state, it can be difficult to guess where the politics align, but taking a look at the current state of government and the way it influences citizen experience will help make things clear.
Dayton, Ohio is not a conservative city. The recent elections, current leadership, and interactions with controversial legislation show a strong alignment with liberal ideals. Dayton has historically alternated between the two major political parties but is currently liberal.
Taking a closer look at the way government functions in Dayton, Ohio will help determine exactly where this city lies on the political spectrum. Keep reading to do so.
In November 2021, Dayton has the opportunity to elect a new mayor. Jeffery Mims Jr. easily won well over the majority vote, finishing with 67% of voters supporting him. His candidacy was endorsed by the Democratic party, and he aligns with liberal ideals. His predecessor, former Mayor Nan Whaley, was also liberal. She spent her time in office fighting for gun control and social equality.
Although Mims has only been in office for a matter of months, he spent many years as a city commissioner, which helped establish what his political influence looks like. Mims’s biggest passion is schooling. He has been president of the Dayton Education Association and has also served on the Ohio School Board. He started his career as a teacher in Dayton Public schools and advocates for greater support for children and their schools, since they are our future.
At the beginning of his term as mayor, Mims gave a State of the City address that gave insight into the city’s politics in the past, present, and future. He recognized the tax increase that funded infrastructure improvements and celebrated the policy that ensures paid parental leave for all Dayton employees.
One of the first things Mims accomplished as mayor was welcoming new aircraft facilities to Dayton, which brought much-needed jobs and money to the area. He is focused on investing in the old parts of the city to turn them into something new. Much of Dayton is run down to the point of needing demolition, but Mims helped introduce plans to repurpose these spaces. He is using funds to remove abandoned and deteriorating property, improve the parks system, build a police/fire station, and add new neighborhood amenities. He is heavily concerned with the social welfare in his city.
Looking at the political affiliations of all the current city commissioners makes it clear that Dayton is not a conservative city. Mims’s commissioners include Matt Joseph, Cristopher Shaw, Darryl Fairchild, and Shenise Turner-Sloss. All four of these commissioners are endorsed by the Democratic party and have liberal agendas that are similar to Mims’s.
Turner-Sloss is the newest of these commissioners and is a perfect representative of Dayton as a liberal city. As an African-American woman, she is particularly concerned with advocating for minority groups and ensuring equality. She is involved in Urban Development funding, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and advocates for community and neighborhood development.
The majority of people who live in Dayton are not conservative, as I can confirm from my 16 years living there. As a result, the elected officials are also not conservative. These elected leaders put liberal policies into place, and all these factors together confirm that Dayton is not a conservative city.
Over the past few years, the legislation coming out of Dayton has been distinctly liberal. One of the more recent changes was the approval of Issue 9 in 2016. When Dayton voted this issue into place, it increased the earned income tax rate to 2.5%. This was a quarter of a percent increase from previously. The extra money was proposed to go toward the funding of neighborhood development, especially the improvement of parks in low-income areas.
Although Issue 9 was voted into effect a handful of years ago, the community improvement from the tax revenue is ongoing even today. Each year, Dayton announces which parks and neighborhoods will be benefitting from these additional funds, and what they plan to do to improve the quality of life for those neighborhoods.
Another Dayton legislation that is more liberal than conservative is its paid parental leave policy. This policy includes paternity leave as well as maternity leave. Many parental leave policies require a waiting period, usually a year, of full-time work before the paid leave is available to employees. Dayton’s policy, however, ensures that all parents will receive leave no matter how long they have been employed at their place of work. As a minimum, Dayton employers must offer 4 weeks of at least 70% pay and an additional optional 2 weeks of leave with no pay.
Dayton, like many cities, is working to reduce their carbon footprint and increase renewable energy. In Jeffrey Mims’s State of the City address, he highlighted Dayton’s plan to transition all city facilities to clean and renewable sources of energy by 2035.
Of course, many conservatives support renewable energy alongside liberals. The differences lie in the motivation and reasoning for their support. While liberals often support clean energy mainly for environmental aid, conservatives often support renewable energy for the reduced cost over time. In the address, working against climate change is the principal reason Mims and Commissioner Joseph are passionate about this sustainable energy plan.
Legislation and policies in Dayton have recently been aligned with liberal ideals. Additionally, the reasoning behind the city policies comes from a liberal point of view.
When determining if a city is conservative or not, it can be insightful to look into the community’s response to crises that occur in the state, country, and world. A city is more than just its government, it is the people who live in the city that determine the condition of the community.
Although some may consider the COVID-19 crisis to be medical rather than political, there have certainly been disagreements between liberals and conservatives on the best course of action to take. Dayton has not been conservative in its response to the Corona Virus. I know from personal experience that the citizens of Dayton were quick to comply with CDC guidelines as they change in regard to masks, quarantining, testing, and vaccinations.
Masks policies were rapidly adopted by local businesses and nearly all of Dayton have been vaccinated. the community has been eager to support government mandates, including gathering and travel restrictions, mask-wearing, and vaccination requirements.
Additional evidence of a liberal community was clear following the police shooting of George Floyd. While conservative communities rallied to support local police, Dayton responded differently. The police chief alongside city leaders worked to review police practices and alter how the police force functions within the community. Mayor Mims announced “a new de-escalation and training policy, the creation of an independent accountability auditor, and the creation of a
non-police responder for non-violent calls”.
The city mourned George Floyd’s death as a tragic murder and the community responded with protests. The mayor and the majority of the community both believe that the safety of Dayton should not rely solely on the police force. Rather, social programs and community support should be the frontlines of defense, preventing issues before the police would ever need to be involved.
In 2019, a mass shooting took place in the Oregon District in downtown Dayton. A mentally ill gunman killed 9 and injured dozens in just 30 seconds before he was shot by police. Of course, this was a tragedy for the whole city. I remember seeing the slogan “Dayton Strong” plastered all over local businesses. Sparked by this shooting, Dayton begin to fight against the conservative desire for gun rights and less gun control.
The mayor at the time was Nan Whaley, who spent much of her time in office advocating for her citizen’s desire for stricter gun laws. The people of Dayton rallied against the governor’s opposition to gun control laws with the support of their mayor. The community was outraged by the lack of action seen in the state government, and many Dayton residents participated in protests for gun control.
In the 2021 mayoral election, liberal Jeffery Mims was opposed by Rennes Bowers, a self-described conservative who only received a third of the votes. Having such a large difference in support from a city in a swing state shows just how liberal Dayton currently is. Dayton cannot be considered a conservative city when its democratic mayor receives such a large proportion of the community’s support.
Since Ohio is a swing state, it should not be a surprise that Dayton has leaned more conservative at times with mayors on both sides of politics. There was a Republican mayor, Mike Turner, in the 1990s, but the city has become more and more liberal since he left office. All succeeding mayors have aligned best with liberal beliefs.
During national elections, Ohio is often seen as a red state, but this is because so many of the other cities in Ohio are more conservative. Dayton, alongside a few other large cities in Ohio, stands out from the rest of the state as a liberal influence.