M.O. with Mayor Leitzell

Be careful what you wish for

By Gary Leitzell

Photo: Mayor Gary Leitzell talking with supporters during his victorious 2009 campaign for Dayton mayor

 “Be careful what you wish for,” I was told just four years ago when I ran for mayor of Dayton. It was an interesting statement, because my mission at the time was to change the way people think at City Hall. It was not to win. What I soon learned was how the two-party system in America is dysfunctional. The goal of the parties is to win at all costs.

My case in point is this: The Montgomery County Republican Party supposedly endorsed me. (I did not seek the endorsement. It was handed to me.) Then it turned out that I wasn’t endorsed at all. Instead, I got a vote of support. This is because I was not a “team player” and I wouldn’t do a few things that I was asked to do – such as lose the earring, start wearing nice suits and ties and, of course, raise $400,000 for the cause because that was what I was told I needed to beat former mayor Rhine McLin. I laughed at that budget quote and stated quite firmly that I could win an election on $20,000. As it turned out, the total spent was $17,600 with $200 left over. I got very little support from the Republican Party and absolutely no money.

Someone told me once that when I won, people expected me to behave in a certain way. When that didn’t happen, they did not know what to expect. Then I exceeded expectations. What I learned very quickly was that one member of our city commission had their sights on my position and had rallied support from the other three members. I knew that any attempt to elevate myself through the media and any mention of my ideas or plans would meet with resistance or become controversial. After all, I could not look good or I would become popular. I was not prepared to do damage control every week, so I opted to avoid being in the media because that was the only way I was going to get things done. Besides, most of the media thought I was just a little bit crazy with ideas that would not work. I believe they think differently now though. I know for a fact that private enterprise will achieve more and accomplish things much faster than government.

As time goes on, the truth will come out and people will tell of the coffee house and bar room meetings with the “Under the Radar Mayor” who inspired or influenced a decision to take a risk and become involved in what would become the Dayton Renaissance. It is a remarkable accomplishment under the circumstances. I actually got more done than any mayor in 20 years – part time and without a cell phone. What is so great is that I can say things now without fear of retribution. I am no longer a threat to a certain commissioner, but I am a more powerful influence. I wonder if that person even understands the unintended consequence of the election process.

Look at the primary election that took place on May 7. I wrote my last article on that day not knowing what the result would be. I have since found out that most people did not even know the purpose of that election or the importance of it. Most people did not understand that they had to vote. Now there are a lot of angry voters. Not angry at me; angry at themselves, the system or those who did not vote. Here is why.

I posted these statistics on my mayor blog at daytonmayor.com. Nan Whaley spent $264,000 on her bid for mayor for the primary election. At the end she had around $3,200 left over. A.J. Wagner spent $102,000 and had about $3,100 left. The position pays $45,000 and is part time. Nan got 5,027 votes. A.J. got 2,595 votes. That makes the cost per vote $52.51 and $39.30, respectively. I spent $2,056 and got 2,363 votes from people who understood the system. My cost per vote was 87 cents.

Nan raised 53 percent ($89,181) of her money outside the region. A.J. raised 12 percent ($9,520) outside the region. I used my own money. There was no point in raising any until after the primary. My brother in England sent me $250 though. Here is the real problem. We all talk about helping Dayton and creating jobs but two people do not walk the walk.

Of the $212,767 that Whaley spent on her campaign, $196,843 or 92.5 percent of the total was spent OUTSIDE the region! Of the $96,678 spent on the Wagner campaign in cash spending, $63,194 or 65 percent was spent with businesses located outside of the Dayton area. So, tell me how this helps local business or even the local unions that gave money to these people? My $2,056 was spent locally except for the website URL purchases and the Paypal fees, which were less than $100.

Don’t worry about me. Worry about the future of Dayton. My advice would be to vote for the lessor of two puppets. If people are willing to spend copious amounts of other peoples’ money to get elected, imagine what they will do with the tax payer dollars to return the favors to those out of state donors to their campaigns. After all, tax dollars are other peoples’ money. 

Be afraid reader, be very afraid of party affiliations and be careful what you wish for. In November, you will get it.


Reach Dayton Mayor Gary D. Leitzell at (937) 333-3653 or GaryLeitzell@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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