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  • Writer's pictureReginald Henderson

Who Got Next?

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Dayton is at a turning point.

Dayton City Hall (Dayton Business Journal photo)

The reign of Nan Whaley is nearing its end, which leaves room for a complete shift in the political landscape of our Gem City.That is, if we, the ordinary citizens, manage to fill the two open seats of Jeffrey Mims and Darryl Fairchild. With control over three of the five commission votes, we’ll have the power to reimagine the culture of Dayton, align the priorities of our local government, and update policies to meet the needs of our families and future generations.

While seemingly ideal, this situation can only be made possible by first addressing some crucial factors for success. We must look within to understand what it is that we truly need and desire as a community. Next, we must find people in our community who will advocate for and represent us in ways that deliver on those demands. It then becomes our responsibility to get OUR candidates into political positions and walk with them as they lead our city. On the surface, this may seem like a great deal of work, but there is no time to just standby. We didn’t gain civil rights because we stood by. The “end” of slavery didn’t happen because we stood by. Therefore, we shall refuse to standby as the opportunity for self-determination is upon us.

When was the last time you’ve seen the mayor or one of our commissioners grab some food at the gas station with no gas? Have you seen any of them at any of the Shells on Gettysburg? What about a car wash, nail salon, barber shop, or Kroger on Siebenthaler? If you have seen them, odds are, it was for an event or very briefly. When I think about what I need from a political figure, the first word that comes to mind is ACCESS. If the only time I see you is on a screen or big event, then I know you my struggle doesn’t resonate with you. I also think about AUTHENTICITY. Why is it that when I do see you, I get the feeling that you’re running game… saying things you think I want to hearconcealing your true identity. I shouldn’t have to hope we’re playing on the same team. Lastly, I think ofTRUST. I must know, at the end of the day, you act on your words, have worked with people like me, and take responsibility for your mistakes.

There are about two ways we could go about putting individuals who meet these criteria into political office, mold folks who already have ambition to run and groom folks for the race. If we rely on ambition alone, a reactive approach, we may not connect as deeply with their platform. Our job may be to change their minds or adjust their strategy to better meet our needs, not what they perceive them to be. Alternatively, if approached proactively, the community can mold candidates by helping build relationships with activists, curating a platformthat speaks to actual needs and interests, and providing a base of support to garner funds, resources, and spread the word. Republicans and Democrats take this route to develop their candidates and it can be seen in how they endorse candidates. Our community has the ability to do the same.

Regardless of how we pick our candidates, what’s most important is that we put in the work necessary to win the election. This step requires grassroots organizing, which we ultimately lack in Dayton, but can easily implement. We will need to knock on doors, make phone calls, create social media content, post signs, host events, donate time and money, vote and everything possible to build momentum for our candidates. While we all have other priorities in our lives, it is our duty to create a better future for our children. We can keep ignoringour responsibility to act and deal with the status quo as it has been given, or we can be the change we want to see in the world. What I want to see is liberation for all people. Since this system prevents that, I will play the game smarter than those who created it. We don’t have to work hard if we think hard.

The bottom line is that this election can be a turning point for this community if we choose to get active! We should participate with a mindset to do away with the old and create an opportunity for the new. We can no longer rest on the laurels of our past “leaders” and must learn to entrust the young, brightresidents of this city. There are folks out here who deserve a chance and others who’d do great if only nudged by the right person. I challenge readers to research the lives of the folks who are campaigning this season to find out: where they went to high school, what organizations they represent (or lack thereof), and one recent accomplishment. Hopefully, this helps you build a persona of each individual so that you may eliminate those you don’t connect with. From there, you’ll have to tune into my next piece to EMPOWER YOUR POLITICS!

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