The race for Dayton mayor between City Commissioner Nan Whaley, and former Montgomery County Pleas Judge A J Wagner will be decided on November 5th. Both candidates are Democrats but they disagree on a number of issues. As part of WYSO's 2013 election coverage, we spoke with both candidates about where they stand.
Here is where each candidate stands on the issues we talked about:
THE PERCEPTION OF DAYTON AS A "DYING CITY"
A 2008 Forbes.com article once named Dayton as one of America’s top 10 dying cities, and A J Wagner agrees. He says that is based on real numbers of jobs and businesses that have left the city. Wagner says even though he knows the label doesn’t sit well with many Daytonians, it demonstrates the change the city still needs to undergo.
Nan Whaley, who was first elected to the Dayton City Commission in 2005, believes those who call Dayton “a dying city” don’t understand the resolve of the city’s residents.
THE USE OF CIVIL SERVICE TESTS TO HIRE POLICE AND FIRE CREWS
A J Wagner is a former Civil Service board member and believes the civil service test should be dropped from the hiring requirements. He says Dayton is one of the few remaining cities that still use the test.
In other interviews, Nan Whaley has said that problems with Dayton's civil service test have been worked out with Department of Justice officials who, during the Bush administration initiated lawsuits against Dayton and numerous other cities, claiming the tests were racially bias.
THE USE OF TRAFFIC CAMERAS TO TICKET MOTORISTS
Nan Whaley believes the regulated use cameras are a good way to lower accidents and traffic fatalities, while A J Wagner does not approve of their use.
SENIOR PROPERTY TAX CREDIT
In 2008 the city of Dayton rescinded a $50 tax for seniors, which was tied to a 1/2 percent income tax for the city. A J Wagner says that tax credit was a promise the city made to seniors and that it should be kept. He believes voters will now vote down the income tax credit which he says adds about $25 million to city coffers every 8 years.
Nan Whaley calls the rescinded tax credit a ‘shared sacrifice,’ and that dropping the tax credit helped mend a $9 million budget hole passed down from the state. Whaley says residents "wanted to make sure that when they were in need, they would get a police officer, they would get an ambulance, and they wanted to protect those services.”
JOBS AND BUSINESS
Both candidates have put a high priority on bringing jobs and business back to the city. Nan Whaley has created a "Road Map" plan for increasing jobs and brining businesses back to the city. A J Wagner has said he would install an established business leader in city hall to talk with help grow business in the area. He says the city should use a "customer service" approach to attract new business.
Nan Whaley’s campaign has significantly out-fund raised Wagner, in both the primary election and in the run-up to November 5th. She has also received the endorsement of several unions and the Montgomery County Democratic Party. Wagner has received the support of some Republicans and several Democrat county commissioners: Deb Lieberman and Judy Dodge. Wagner has stated that his advantage lies in not being tied to a political machine.
A J Wagner's political life has spanned 30+ years. He began as a teacher, then worked his way through law school. After a short stint in private law practice he went to work for the city of Dayton. In 1991 he became county auditor. After 10 years in that position, he elected Common Pleas Judge in Montgomery County, another position he held for about 10 years. Wagner also claims a number of other civic engagements.
Nan Whaley has served as city commissioner since 2005. Whaley says she's proud of the work the city commission has done over the years. She has developed a "Road Map" plan for recovery in the Dayton region that's backed by other city commissioners. Both she and Wagner have stated that they plan to treat the mayor’s position as a full time job.