Issues

Making Dayton Work for You

My vision as your next Dayton City Commissioner, is to prioritize residents by rebuilding our neighborhoods “block by block”. This will create opportunities and space for small business growth which strengthen relationships by increasing resources and support that help rebuild our working families.

As Commissioner, I will work diligently to :

  • REBUILD HEALTHY DAYTON NEIGHBORHOODS
  • STRENGTHEN BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
  • PUT RESIDENTS FIRST

Making Dayton work for you, is a “forward-thinking” concept sparked by bold, active, and new innovative leadership that will work to create and implement policies that will benefit the lives of residents and positively impact the sustainability of neighborhoods, businesses, and institutions.

As your Commissioner, I will champion and support progressive policies and best practices that will help eliminate human insecurities (political, environment, community, health, food, economic, and personal). So, what does that look like…

REBUILDing HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOODS

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"Resident’s First" Property Program

Residents should have the same opportunities that “out-of-town” developers have when investing in our communities! My plan is to establish the “Resident’s First Property Program.” This program will give Dayton residents the first option to purchase property located in the City and provide residents with a financial advantage over nonresident purchasers.

 

  1. Dayton residents will be able to purchase vacant lots and property.
  2. Dayton residents can purchase vacant lots next door to their existing property for only $1 and vacant properties for $2,000.
  3. Non-Dayton residents can purchase vacant lots for $2,000 and vacant properties for $5,000.
"Fix My Block" Program

Every resident deserves to live in a clean and safe neighborhood. As Commisioner, I will create the “Fix My Block” program that will encourage existing home owners to invest in their property by providing grants and low-interest loans for repairs. The “Fix My Block”  program will be supported by the city partnering with other community stakeholders to create an aggressive demolition program for vacant properties and the management and elimination of overgrown trees and grass making Dayton “Beautiful”.  The program will also protect longtime homeowners from unaffordable increases in property taxes by advocating for a county’s Longtime Owner Occupant Protection tax exemption.

Healthy Communities

Restrictive policy and the effects of redlining that are upheld in the bounds of racism continues its harm today. The unprecedented times and the challenges of the pandemic (COVID-19) have disproportionately grappled the Black community, a community that has suffered the loss of jobs, healthy food options, and the closing of a level -1 trauma hospital in Good Samaritan Hospital.

It is times like these that further strengthen the demand for every resident to have access to medical, mental, and emergency health care services. My plan is to work with each health care provider in the City and ensure physical health care facilities are located in each quadrant of the city.

Mental healthcare is healthcare, and step one is to improve access to mental healthcare as a part of the first responders in a crisis. This means creating a division of Dayton Police that is staffed by unarmed social workers that are tasked with resolving 911 calls involving mental health issues, homelessness, and substance abuse. This program has already had success in communities such as Alexandria, Kentucky, and this initiative can allow the police to reduce repeat emergency calls while also getting residents the help that police officers don’t have the skills, resources or time to provide.

Fighting Food Insecurity and Food Deserts

Nearly 1 in 3 Dayton residents live in poverty and 1 in 5 experience food insecurity. Both of these are among the highest in Ohio and in the country. In order to begin addressing these issues, I will work to:

  • Provide City support to the existing urban farm non-profits and co-ops working to transform vacant spaces into green spaces, greenhouses, and shared gardens which can grow foods to be distributed at city food banks.
  • Partner with neighboring communities to sponsor recurring fresh produce farmer’s markets, especially in areas of Dayton that are food deserts.
  • Collaborate with community organizations for the development of Public Fridges to address the immediate need of food instability and foster a sense of community.
"Dayton Renters Initiative” program

Dayton residents need support! The goal of the “Dayton Renters Initiative” program will strengthen the city’s housing code enforcement department. The program will provide residents with a direct link to the City of Dayton’s Housing Code Enforcement unit and streamline the process for residents to report neglectful property owners to the city. Also, the process will ensure that the city’s response to alleged neglectful property maintenance is timely and aggressive towards providing safe spaces for our residents.

The Dayton Renters Initiative program will also support property owners in upgrading units that are below code by providing low-interest loans to address code violations through contracted services from city certified small business/minority contractors.

STRENGTHEN BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS

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"4-Way Business District" Plan

Dayton experienced many small businesses having to close their doors due to the inability to secure emergency funding to sustain their business through economic hardships. Small business owners should not have to sacrifice their hard work and witness their lifetime dreams crumble because of the lack of local institutional support, I will work to create more local resources to keep small businesses that have been severely impacted from the lack of federal funding during the pandemic or closure due to unforeseen circumstances.

Strong ties occur between people and businesses/institutions with a working or professional history that have higher levels of trust, are more willing to exhibit transparency, and are more likely to participate in joint problem-solving. Networking assets that build strong ties focus on strengthening relationships within similar fields.  Our city’s growth depends on the trust and collaboration of our elected officials and residents.

Local businesses should be within walking distance of all of our neighborhoods! The “Dayton 4-Way Business District” has three components for investment:

  • Main Street, Third Street, Salem Ave., & Gettysburg Ave. will have similar zoning for restaurants, retail shopping, grocery, and business related offices.
  • Vacant commercial buildings should be sold to developers at reduced market rates. In return, the properties will contain contract provisions that ensure the properties will develop within three years.
  • The City of Dayton should partner with local small businesses to establish affordable physical stores in the newly established Business Districts.
Economic Recovery from COVID-19

Businesses represent the heart of economic security within every community, and are a significant indicator of our city’s economic well-being. Businesses must have avenues to strengthen their operations and expand their markets.

  • As Commissioner, I will launch the “Cut the Tape” program that will work to eliminate barriers and restructuring policies that restrict or complicate access to capital, resources, and development by partnering with businesses, institutions, and stakeholders to create and transform policies that are beneficial to entrepreneurship, business development, and long-term planning.
  • Permit businesses to expand outdoor space on the sidewalk, convert curbside parking space into shared outdoor dining spaces as strEATERIES and Parklets, and create a framework for businesses to operate further into the street during rotating scheduled road closure events.
  • In addition, I will advocate for a livable wage and fight for a “pro-workers” agenda by supporting our local unions that engage in collective bargaining for workers’ rights, fair pay, and benefits. I will fight to increase the financial incentives of our jobs to lessen the burden that Dayton families deal with in order to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

PUT RESIDENTS FIRST

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reducing wealth inequality

Improving our neighborhoods and our local economy depends on ensuring everyone can participate and prosper – no matter their background. That’s why I will work to address gaps in social services that prevent improving their lives by:

 

  • Partnering with the county government or independently establish a public bank which lessens the reliance on payday lenders, helps the unbanked population, has a duty to help and support the community, and where any profits are immediately retained in the city to be reinvested in the community.
  • Offering permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Research study after research study have shown this to be an evidence-based approach to reducing homelessness and saves money in the long-run by lifting people from reducing the need for social services.
  • Establishing a new City fund for acquiring, refurbishing, and managing rental properties to grow our supply of deed-restricted affordable housing.
  • Expand public housing stock while also requiring that new developments set aside at least 25% of units for low income rentals.
Police Reform

‘Defund the police’ is a term to describe a wide range of policies and changes – and that is needed. I believe we need to ‘re-imagine’ the role of police officers and officer-resident relations:

  • Community input is essential for police reform. My plan is to ensure that an independent board is established to investigate alleged police misconduct. This “Citizen Review Board” will be filled with Dayton residents with no personal or professional connections to the DPD and they will report directly to the City Commission. The CRB will be adequately funded and have the power to subpoena records, evidence, and testimony to thoroughly investigate incidents.
  • I will also push for more diversity and the recruitment of Dayton residents in the Dayton Police Department. My plan is to increase the incentives provided to Dayton residents to become officers. To encourage law enforcement as a profession, recruits will receive:
    1. Competitive wages
    2. Paid training
    3. College tuition
    4. Incentives for living in the city

The Dayton Police Department is only one part of our community team. Teams are more productive when every player is at their best. We currently use the police to respond to things such as wellness checks, auto accidents, school discipline, the mentally ill, and the unhoused. None of these situations are a crime.

  • My plan is to connect Police officers with social workers and mental health professionals to respond to lower threat levels calls. The goal is to ensure the safety of our residents and officers in every interaction.
  • It’s time to re-imagine public safety and create programs where individuals trained to deal with each of these things respond and offer help and solutions.

We must also protect the civil rights of those who come into contact with police. For this reason, there must be some limits on the powers and tools available to our police:

  • Ban the Dayton police and any outside law enforcement from the use of chemical weapons, kinetic impact projectiles, acoustic weapons, directed energy weapons, water cannons, disorientation devices, or ultrasonic cannons.
  • Ban DPD’s participation in Pentagon’s 1033 program which allows military equipment to be on our streets and require the liquidation of the materials obtained through the program by the end of 2022.
Protecting Residential and Commercial Renters
  • I will fight for a moratorium on eviction, mortgages, and utility payments for working-class renters, homeowners, and struggling small businesses while we c9ntinue to recover from the pandemic. (More info on similar proposals in other communities can be found here)
  • Less than 3% of renters facing eviction have legal representation and this contributes to tenants losing 99% of cases. I will fight for legislation guaranteeing tenants the right to legal representation when facing eviction. Similar programs already exist in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Newark, and Baltimore. Researchers in Baltimore found that the cost of the program was more than paid for by savings to the city and state on homeless shelters, Medicaid spending, school funding and foster care costs. Further reading on these programs and studies can be found here, here, and here.
Championing Environmental Reform

Clean air and water in Dayton must be a top priority. Ohio is well above the national average in rates of asthma and Dayton is one of the largest hotspots in the state.  In 2019, Dayton was graded an “F” by the American Lung Association for its weighted average number of high ozone days. These issues will only get worse as the climate emergency progresses. Now is the time to address our infrastructure and make the improvements before it is too late.

  • PFAS has potentially contaminated the aquifer below Dayton, and this supplies much of Montgomery County with water. This is a significant issue. The City of Dayton should follow the lead of WPAFB and create a water filtration system. The City must also contribute to finally cleaning up the future contamination (more info). This investment in infrastructure will also be an great time to update the crumbling system that has repeatedly caused water shortages in recent years.
  • The City must proactively address environmental concerns instead of paying a higher price later when the problems have spun out of control, like when the state threatened lawsuits over $8 million in river pollution abatement.
  • Expand urban tree canopy. Science has repeatedly shown that greenspaces can not only protect from some of the negative impacts of pollution, but also supports mental health.
  • Adopt a measure providing an automatic 100% real property tax abatement of the assessed property value for newly constructed or rehabilitated commercial or residential properties that earn a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. This proposal is similar to the program implemented in Cincinnati.
  • Amend the City Building Code to streamline the permitting and approval processes for the installation of solar panels on residential, multi-family dwellings and commercial rooftops.
  • Offer no-cost energy audits to low income residents performed by a city contractor, and fund grants for the program so the home improvements can be made.
  • Require all new multi-unit residential and commercial buildings be built with green features such as upgraded insulation, efficient appliances, and alternative energy technology (e.g., solar, geothermal, etc.).
  • Mandate that new commercial construction should satisfy the requirements for, but not compel building owners to obtain, certification from third party organizations such as Energy Star, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or similar organizations.
  • Require companies over a certain size report their energy, water, and waste usage to the city and that data will be publicly available. This can help the City assess infrastructure needs and assist companies in reducing their footprint, similar to the Energy Star benchmarking policy.
  • Impose a ban on commercial plastic bags and paper bags that are not 100 percent recyclable or made from at least 40 percent of recycled material. This ban will likely exempt restaurant leftovers or carry-out orders, bags consumers bring with them, or bags for newspapers, dry-cleaning, meat, pet waste, prescriptions, or partially-consumed bottles of wine.

Transportation Infrastructure Investment
  • Invest in public transport by creating protected bike and bus lanes throughout the City.
  • Expand the fare-free coverage areas of the Regional Transit Authority to more parts of the City to encourage ridership on popular routes.
  • Advocate for a resolution supporting the proposed construction of a regional rail line that connects Dayton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus to other Midwestern cities and also advocate for links to surrounding rural areas (as advocated by Reimagine Appalachia).
  • Expand the local electric vehicle infrastructure in partnership with new public and private developments.

Response to Dayton Daily News Questionnaire

The Dayton Daily News recently covered the Dayton debates, in which Shenise Turner-Sloss and David Esrati challenged incumbent Commissioners Chris Shaw and Matt Joseph. The Dayton Daily News also issued a questionnaire as a companion to the debate; Shenise’s responses to the questionnaire are available below.

Q: How has the city done in response to the Memorial Day tornadoes? What needs to be done in the months and years ahead to help the areas hardest hit?

Shenise Turner-Sloss: Dayton was not prepared to deal with a disaster such as this. As mentioned by a city official in a commission meeting, once our warning system became obsolete, they failed to find an alternative and suggested that systems that they were considering were too costly.

This is unacceptable, and leaves Dayton defenseless in events such as this. Regardless of the costs, Dayton residents need to have audio alert systems that can be heard in houses and throughout all neighborhoods that could potentially be affected.

We need to develop an emergency response plan that includes shelter hubs designated throughout the four quadrants in the city.

These designations should all include immediate services such as, food, water, medical services, clothing, and adult/children necessities.

There needs to be an emergency fund set aside for the most vulnerable victims that will either allow them to quickly transition to alternative stable housing or receive recovery funds if the residents are not insured.

Source: Candidates talk tornado response – Dayton Daily News

Q: What will you do to improve life in Dayton’s neighborhoods outside of downtown?

Shenise Turner-Sloss: I will work to increase neighborhood investment by enhancing basic city services, encouraging resident participation and enforcing community benefit agreements to development projects.

The No. 1 issue I hear from residents is that of potholes and unacceptable street conditions. Legislation has already passed to lessen the effects, but Dayton needs intentional investment to ensure our streets are safe for our cars and our lives.

We also need more home inspectors to help keep our properties up to a livable standard.

Similarly, I will create and promote opportunities for residents to actively engage in our city’s revitalization.

By involving the community in the planning process earlier and integrating their perspectives during decision making, I will instill inclusive growth and inspire larger support. This will work in conjunction with the community benefit agreements, which require neighborhood investment as a condition to downtown development.

When both the residents and external or larger developers work hand-in-hand, balance will be achieved to bring equity across Dayton.

Source: Candidates talk city neighborhoods – Dayton Daily News

Q: What is the current state of Dayton? And is the city headed in the right/wrong direction? Please explain your answer.

Shenise Turner-Sloss: The Dayton community has had a challenging summer.

Together, we have endured public acts of hateful rhetoric that led members of the Alt-Right to our community, the devastation of 14 tornadoes that ravished our neighborhoods, and the heinous act of the senseless killing of nine victims in the Oregon District who will forever be in our hearts.

Dayton is at a pivotal point.

The direction that our local government takes could further strain our resources to where it would take much longer to recover.

Residents are living in dilapidated neighborhoods that are further declining and attracting criminal mischief.

The conditions of neighborhoods are becoming the rationale for existing businesses to relocate and starter businesses to be steered away.

Furthermore, residents are experiencing an increase in mental illness from their living conditions that stifle opportunity to overcome those conditions.

Source: Is Dayton on right track? Candidates’ opinions differ – Dayton Daily News

Q: In light of the mass shooting in the Oregon District, what do you think needs to be done to keep an incident like that from happening again?

Shenise Turner-Sloss: Incidents such as the Oregon District tragedy are hard to manage and prepare for. This is an issue that far outweighs conversations of gun control; however, these are conversations that need to happen regardless.

I have been to numerous city attractions where the entertainment districts are completely closed off to cars, have one or two entrances that are guarded with metal detectors and security.

While this does not ensure that tragedies like this will not happen, it places more obstacles and deterrents for shootings like this to be carried out.

Furthermore, it gives people wishing to patronize the area more of a sense of security with a set-up such as this.

Q: Earlier this year, a Dayton city employee, former city commissioner and former state representative were arrested on federal charges. FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Deters said there “appears to be a culture of corruption in Dayton-area politics.” Gov. Mike DeWine said he does not believe there is a culture of corruption in Dayton. He says there are just some “bad people” in public office. Do you believe there is a culture of corruption in Dayton? Explain why or why not.

Shenise Turner-Sloss: I believe there is a philosophy of “pay to play” politics in the city of Dayton that has for decades left our communities stagnant and has caused the most vulnerable to suffer.

The elite and privileged ruling over our city has furthered the gap of opportunity for working families.

Self-serving individuals have used the city of Dayton as their own “golden parachute” and as a political ploy to springboard careers.

We are in need of increased transparency, as many decisions are made before being presented to the public. We have seen democracy backslide in recent years.

In turn, our community is doing so as well. It is my sincere hope that these allegations prove unfounded; however, I support unveiling the truth. I am running for Dayton Commission as a leader who will restore our government’s integrity.

Source: Dayton’s political culture: How real is the corruption? – Dayton Daily News

Q: Do you believe the city has done enough to protect Dayton’s water since the water main break earlier this year that caused the loss of 150 million gallons of treated water?

Shenise Turner-Sloss: Given the amount of detailed information that has been made available to the public, I do not believe the city has done enough to protect Dayton’s water.

Water is a community’s most precious resource; therefore, the city need to invest in back-up generators for all of the well fields and pumping stations. Furthermore, we need to take expert recommendations rather than default to fiscal recommendations.

Source: City Commission candidates answer about water safety – Dayton Daily News

Q: What are the biggest threats to growing Dayton’s prosperity, economy, jobs and population? What do you plan to do to address these challenges?

Shenise Turner-Sloss: The biggest threat to growing Dayton’s prosperity is having the right leadership.

Homogeneous leadership will always stagnate growth and leave the most vulnerable residents and neighborhoods behind.

Yes, a core is needed to generate tax revenue streams; however, this growth should not be at the expense of vulnerable neighborhoods, and further strain the resources of “tipping point” neighborhoods.

There is a way that all neighborhoods can win and all residents can have better opportunities. As a Commissioner, I would ensure that all processes are impeccably managed so that fiscal oversights are no longer issues and the City of Dayton will not be penalized for misallocation of federal funds and be liable for repayment of money.

Ensuring that we are accountable for meeting federal guidelines will lead to more development opportunities.

Source: Dayton candidates discuss prosperity, city’s economy – Dayton Daily News

Q: What will you do to improve downtown?

Shenise Turner-Sloss: I will work tirelessly to make sure that downtown Dayton grows and redevelops, but not at the expense of our outside neighborhoods or our residents.

I will create a balance that will allow our core to thrive, attracting economic development within and in surrounding neighborhoods.

With the trend moving towards living in urban areas where people have easy access to all their basic needs, it’s important we provide opportunities that accommodate the interests of the 21st century.

Downtown Dayton requires a balance of affordable housing and affordable space for business owners.

I will work to attract, retain and secure commercial businesses that provide growth in our economy.

We need to rethink our development strategies to find solutions that will create a “win-win situation” for downtown and our residential neighborhoods.

Source: Candidates talk plans for future of downtown – Dayton Daily News