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Commission says no to ‘full-time’ Dayton mayor proposal, but yes to higher pay changes

By: Cornelius Frolik, Dayton Daily News

After weeks of meetings, a charter review committee has decided not to recommend a charter amendment that would explicitly make Dayton’s mayor a full-time position.

Committee members said they fear that requiring the mayor to work full-time would prevent some residents from running for office, including those who have other jobs they wish to keep. “By doing full-time, perhaps we’ve excluded a portion of the population,” said David Williamson, a committee member. “With a full-time mayor, my concern is that we’re attracting the same sort of candidate that we would for the city manager position.”

The committee has recommended a new way to calculate the mayor’s and city commissioners’ compensation, which if approved by voters would result in pay increases.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is not seeking reelection after serving two terms, advocated for making the mayor’s role full time, even discussing her support for the idea during her State of the City address this week.

“The role of mayor deserves someone who can put the time into it that it requires in our current moment,” Whaley said during her annual address. “It also cannot be left only to people who are independently wealthy, are in retirement or, like me, choose not to have children.”

Dayton’s charter review committee has decided to recommend a handful of proposed charter amendments.

The amendments are expected to head to the city commission for consideration to place on the ballot. The changes have to be approved by voters.

The committee discussed proposed charter language that would declare the mayor’s position as full time. But members ultimately voted 5 to 2 in favor of making other changes to the language about the mayor’s responsibilities.

Stanley Earley, a member of the committee, said he thinks it is wise for the charter to remain silent on whether the mayor’s office is full or part time.

Earley said the best chance to get the best elected officials is to “maximize” the pool of potential candidates.

He said political hopefuls should not have to risk giving up their careers to become the mayor.

Williamson said some people work two full-time jobs and thinks it’s plausible that Dayton residents can fulfill the mayor’s responsibilities without having to give up their other occupations.

The committee also recommended a charter amendment to change the method for determining the compensation of the mayor and city commissioners.

Under the proposal, city leaders’ pay would be tied to the salaries of the Montgomery County board of commissioners.

The mayor would earn 75% of the highest county commissioner salary, and commissioners would earn half the highest salary.

Right now, the mayor’s and commissioners’ pay is determined by a compensation board appointed by the city commission.

The mayor earns about $56,500 annually and the commissioners about $47,800, city staff said. The county commissioners will earn about $107,690 this year.

Mohamed Al-Hamdani was one of the two committee members to vote in favor of charter language to make the mayor full-time.

He said he thinks the city needs and deserves a full-time mayor, given the considerable and growing responsibilities of the office. He said he is worried one day the city could have a mayor who doesn’t take the role seriously and puts minimal or insufficient effort into their work.

“For the record, I think it’s a mistake to do that,” he said, referring to the committee’s decision to approve alternative language. “I think we’re letting the past dictate our future here.”

Al-Hamdani also said he doesn’t see the point in increasing the mayor’s pay if office-holders won’t be asked to do more work.

Whaley said she wished the charter committee would have included language stating the role is “full time,” because she thinks citizens will not tolerate anything less.

But, Whaley said, she’s pleased with new language that will better spell out the mayor’s responsibilities, and the compensation changes are good news.

“This is part of government ― you don’t get everything you exactly want, and that’s part of the process, and I appreciate that,” she said. “I would have preferred to put ‘full time’ in, but it’s not the end of the world.”

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