Moderate Oakwood Democrat Seeks To Replace Radical Republican Jim Butler To Represent OHD-41

Caroline Gentry spoke at our South of Dayton Democratic Club this week. Caroline is seeking the Democratic nomination to represent the strongly Republican south of Dayton region, OHD-41.

Caroline Gentry is seeking to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for election to the Ohio House representing the area where I live — Ohio’s newly created House District 41. December 7 is the deadline for candidates to file for the March primary and Mrs. Gentry is the first Democratic candidate, I am aware of, who has expressed interest.

Mrs. Gentry gave an impressive presentation at our South of Dayton Democratic Club meeting this week, saying that the time is ripe for a moderate, well qualified Democrat, such as herself, to win in districts that habitually have voted Republican.

Mrs. Gentry shared statistics showing that 53% of voters in the the new OHD-41 rejected SB5 — the Republican legislation curtailing rights of public employees — with a “No” vote on Issue 2. She said the radical Republican agenda has lost support from many moderate Republicans. In addition to SB5, Gentry cited other legislation that many moderate Republicans do not support, such as HB194, curtailing election rights, and, HB153, eliminating the estate tax effective January 1, 2013.

OHD-41 replaces the old OHD-37, currently represented by Republican Jim Butler — an enthusiastic backer of the most radical of Republican ideas. Mr. Butler, for example, a member of the House Education Committee, voted in that committee to approve HB136, legislation that is now pending for action by the whole Assembly. This bill, if approved, will transfer state money currently paid to public schools to private religious schools, via a generous voucher program. The HB136 law would apply to all schools — those rated as “excellent,” as well as failing schools.

These are how the new South of Dayton districts are defined.

The new OHD-41 includes areas with school districts rated “excellent” — Centerville, Kettering, Oakwood, and Riverside.  HB136, if approved, will be very disruptive to these districts and it is legislation that will be vigorously opposed by many citizens in these communities, Republicans as well as Democrats. Mr. Butler will need to defend his vote.

Because of the elimination of the estate tax in HB153, starting in 2013, these prosperous communities will be hit hard with a loss of revenue they long have counted on to maintain their local budgets. Kettering will lose, on average, revenue of about $3.2 million each year, and Oakwood will lose about $2.6 million each year. Officials in these communities, most of whom are Republicans, strongly opposed the elimination of this revenue source, and will soon reveal the consequences of what the loss of revenue caused by HB153 will mean to local services and tax rates. It seems certain, when the impact of this legislation is understood, Mr. Butler’s support of HB153 will lose him votes in these hard hit communities.

Mrs. Gentry says growing up in Yellowsprings, she always considered herself conservative. For example, as a devout Catholic, she holds to a pro-life POV. Only later, by comparison to the radicals who have overtaken the conservative label, did she realize she actually is best described as a moderate. She has an impressive resume. She received a law degree from Yale University and for two years worked for Judge Walter Rice, the highly respected federal judge for the U.S. District Court for this region. She is now a full partner at the law firm Porterwright, lives in Oakwood, is married to an attorney, has two children, age 12 and age 10 and is recognized for her pro bono legal work.

Mrs. Gentry is a very impressive individual. She is 41 years old and projects a calm, assured, and accessible personality. She shows a practical and incisive intelligence and perceptive empathy. I think her good sense and attractive personality will appeal to the voters of OHD-41, particularly women voters.

Mrs. Gentry says she knows the current representative for this district, Jim Butler, and has worked with him. She says she likes him personally, but strongly disagrees with some of the policies he supports.

The newly apportioned Ohio House Districts: Montgomery County used to have five districts, now it has 4 1/2. My district used to be OHD-37, now it is OHD-41.

Mr. Butler has not yet stood for a general election, but was appointed representative for OHD-37 by the Republican Party. The seat became open when the elected representative, Republican Peggy Lehner, was appointed to serve as senator for Ohio’s Senate District 6, taking the place of Jon Husted who was elected Secretary of State for Ohio. Mrs. Lehner, also, will be seeking reelection this year, and, as yet, no Democrat has announced his or her candidacy to represent the Democratic Party to challenge her reelection.

Mr. Butler is an Oakwood attorney. He graduated from the Naval Academy and flew a F-14 Tomcat. This election will be his first, and although the new OHD 41 was designed to be a “safe” Republican district, if the outcome of Issue 2 is any indication, Mr. Butler may find that his identification with and support of the most extreme of the Republican fringe, may not resonate with voters in this traditionally conservative region.

Mrs. Gentry with her calm and sensible intelligence and mainstream POV is a moderate, a reasonable alternative to the madness occurring in Columbus, a person who is representative of the mainstream of voters in south of Dayton. I’m thinking that many Republican voters in OHD-41 will decide to support her. The election for representative for OHD-41 promises to be an interesting and informative contest.

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12 comments to Moderate Oakwood Democrat Seeks To Replace Radical Republican Jim Butler To Represent OHD-41

  • Eric

    Mrs. Gentry gave an impressive presentation at our South of Dayton Democratic Club

    Did she mention any plans to improve Dayton Public Schools? Or would DPS parents be better served by a territory transfer that merges Dunbar High School into Oakwood?

  • Mike Bock

    Eric, Mrs. Gentry’s presentation didn’t include an analysis of how to improve public education. The general principle of “Do no harm”, however, for representatives applies. Her point was that HB136 is a radical idea that will actually harm public education, and, by advancing such legislation, Mr. Butler is far out of the mainstream of the views of voters in OHD-41.

    The new apportionment plan, for the first time, puts two Dayton wards in the House District for South of Dayton, OHD-41, so, the general question of how to improve DPS is a question candidates for OHD-41 should be able to address. But in this presentation, Mrs. Gentry’s focus was on the big picture — particularly, the challenge of a Democrat winning this traditionally Republican district, and why the radical legislation advanced by Mr. Butler will make this district competitive in 2012.

  • Attila the Hun

    The DPS School Board has the main responsibility to improve the Dayton schools. What we need is a better class of parents.

  • Stan Hirtle

    “The DPS School Board has the main responsibility to improve the Dayton schools. What we need is a better class of parents.” Assuming there is some truth there, how do you propose to accomplish this?

  • Eric

    DPS School Board has the main responsibility to improve the Dayton schools

    Given who Montgomery County Democrats (and their union funders) support for DPS board, is improvement likely?

    Should schoolchildren bear the consequences of Montgomery County Democrats’ indifference to human rights in public education?

    Or should voters remove the Democrats from public office? (Oops, Governor Strickland’s Ohio Department of Education declines to inform civics students of that possibility…)

    Does Mrs. Gentry support a territory transfer of Dunbar High School (and environs) into the Oakwood district? Why or why not? Oakwood would have two high schools, Oakwood Dunbar and Oakwood Far Hills. Attendance zones could be drawn to ensure socioeconomic integration–probably by busing Oakwood’s west side to Dunbar and DeSoto Bass to Far Hills.

    If Mrs. Gentry won’t support a territory transfer (and more important, work to ensure both busing for socioeconomic integration and teacher reassignment for educational equity) what alternative can she (and her fellow Democrats) offer schoolchildren in the Dunbar area?

  • Mike Bock

    Eric, I just met Mrs. Gentry and have not had a chance to have an in-depth discussion with her concerning her views of how to improve public education. But speaking for myself, I think the idea of “local control” by local communities is a key principle that should guide the future of public education. I keep quoting David Matthews that one key to vitalizing public education is vitalizing local democracy. The implementation of your proposal of “a territory transfer of Dunbar High School (and environs) into the Oakwood district” could happen, it seems to me, only through dictatorial assertion, not through democratic action. The problem is, dictatorial assertion has been proven to undermine and destroy the emergence of innovation or quality.

    What Oakwood could accomplish through democratic action, however, is the transformation of their own system of public education to levels of quality now hardly dreamed of by Oakwood residents. Oakwood could become an example of a new organizational structure, based on a new definition of aim, a new use of resources that would liberate and empower the Oakwood system of public education for a 21st century model of public education. I’m thinking of a big leap of transformation as from the horse and buggy age to the internal combustion age or from the age of candles to the age of electric lights. It is a reasonable expectation that the affluent and secure should be the first to develop and the first to enjoy the big advances gained in a society. What Oakwood should offer is a new model of education that will actually work to empower and educate, a new model that others can copy and can use for their own benefit.

  • Eric

    The implementation of your proposal of “a territory transfer of Dunbar High School (and environs) into the Oakwood district” could happen, it seems to me, only through dictatorial assertion, not through democratic action.

    First, it’s not my “proposal,” it’s the law. All I’ve done is pose a question to determine Mrs. Gentry’s commitment to stemming human rights abuses in public education. (Since Representative Butler’s solutions are too “radical” for Mrs. Gentry)

    Second, the law (which Mrs. Gentry would be oathbound to uphold) exemplifies “democratic action,” not “dictatorial assertion”:
    “A petition, signed by seventy-five per cent of the qualified electors residing within that portion of a city, exempted village, or local school district proposed to be transferred voting at the last general election, requests such a transfer;”

  • Mike Bock

    Eric, thanks for citing an interesting section of the Ohio code that I’ve not noticed before: “3311.24 Transfer of city, exempted village or local school district territory to adjoining district.”

    I didn’t say that there is not a possible democratic route to accomplish a “territorial transfer.” If super majorities in both communities desire a transfer and both school boards agree, then, yes it could happen. But I’d say the level of consensus needed is so high and the level of resistance to such change would be so fierce, that the chances this would ever happen is very close to zero. How could you ever expect such a revolution to happen via democratic processes? If you have a compelling argument that could move public opinion to support such a proposal, I’d love to hear it. It’s not possible. I’ll hold to my POV that such change would be more likely from a dictatorial decree — my imagination fails me as to how that could ever be: A military takeover? A change in the Ohio constitution followed by a hostile court order? — not democratic processes.

    I can believe there are many citizens of Oakwood who would support public policies “stemming human rights abuses in public education.” Effective leadership needs to have a vision / a plan that is doable, one that that inspires public support, one that moves a community toward a positive direction. I think the route to improvement is via the strengthening of local communities / local democracy, and, yes, the hard work of leadership is needed.

  • Eric

    If super majorities in both communities desire a transfer and both school boards agree, then, yes it could happen.

    That’s not what the law said. If a super majority around Dunbar High School files a petition, the affected boards shall carry through.

  • Mike Bock

    You are making me read more carefully. You are right that the 75% majority applies only to those citizens living within the region that is subject to transfer. But, as I read it, the whole procedure must start with the board of education of the territory seeking transfer. A request for transfer cannot simply come from an interested citizen group, but must originate in legislation passed by an elected board of education. So that is one constraint.

    But the biggest constraint, as I read it, is in 4(a) which says, “Such transfer shall not be complete however, until: (a) A resolution accepting the transfer has been passed by a majority vote of the full membership of the board of education of the city, exempted village, or local school district to which the territory is transferred.”

    In other words,
    if the Dayton Board would initiate the transfer of a region under its authority, and then,
    if 75% of the citizens in the affected region agree, and then,
    if the State Board of Education votes to approve the transfer,
    there still remains the biggest If of all: Before the transfer could be completed, the Oakwood Board of Education would also need to agree.

    Again, although there is a path by which a democratic process could result in “a territory transfer of Dunbar High School (and environs) into the Oakwood district,” it seems the likelihood approaches zero that elected officials in either Dayton or Oakwood, seeking to represent their constituencies, would vote for such a transfer.

    If it is true, as I believe, and as I keep quoting David Matthews, that a sure path to strengthen public education is to strengthen local democracy / local control, it seems a strong local democracy in Dayton and Oakwood would be very unlikely to agree to the transfer you suggest. Such transfer, if ever it would occur, it seems to me, could only happen by subverting democracy and, the consequence of such weakening of democracy, therefore, would be the weakening of public education.

    If this is a good idea, then where is the compelling argument that could possibly prevail in a democratic setting? Where is the compelling argument that could move public opinion to give it support?

  • Eric

    it seems the likelihood approaches zero that elected officials … would vote for such a transfer

    So the Oakwood School Board doesn’t value diversity and socioeconomic integration? What is Mrs. Gentry’s opinion? What changes to existing territory transfer law would she support?

    where is the compelling argument that could possibly prevail in a democratic setting?

    Bill Ayers pointed out that the Oakwood kids probably aren’t getting the civics education they deserve because of their socioeconomic isolation. Dr. Ayers is an authority among educators.

  • Attilla the Hun

    My point about needing a better class of parents was to point out in a wry way, the great difficulty in improving the DPS. Of course, the city does a lot of things that discourage businesses from locating in Dayton. Frankly, the city needs to encourage the producers to locate there and the eaters of society to move elsewhere.

    The DPS Board of Education poses big problems because the Democrat Party has politicized it and given us inferior members. Maybe the state should take over the system citing the incompetence of the electorate. I don’t see that happening. (“Too stupid to govern” would not be a popular slogan.)

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