By Nate Dillard
Jeffrey Mims, Jr. is the 57th mayor of Dayton and fourth Black person to hold the office. Elevate Dayton is launching a series asking local community leaders and stakeholders what having a Black mayor means to them. First up is Nate Dillard, Elevate Dayton publisher, LunarX Agency owner and digital director for the Jeffrey Mims for Dayton Mayor campaign.
I believe that having Jeffrey Mims, Jr. as Dayton's mayor — but specifically as a Black mayor — will help raise the Gem City out of its segregated, unequal and underserved status. He has extensive know-how and understanding to lead Dayton in developing more equitable educational and career outcomes for all Daytonians.
Mims comes into office as recent statistics underscore how the city needs someone with his expertise and leadership. According to current census estimates, Dayton is 38% Black, 30% of residents live below the poverty line and 18% of Daytonians ages 25 and older hold a bachelor's degree.
Factors contributing to this divide include the natural and manufactured geography of the Dayton area. The Miami River separates east and west Dayton. Meanwhile, east Dayton benefits from its proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the sixth-largest employer in the state, while west Dayton remains resource-deprived.
I think Dayton has the perfect leader in place to help overcome these challenges, especially within our local schools.
While serving as City Commissioner in 2014, he brought President Obama's My Brother's Keeper (MBK) alliance to Dayton to develop programming and help close achievement gaps among boys of color through mentorship and training. Mims has since worked to expand the impact of Dayton's MBK chapter to help launch the Males of Color youth mentorship program in Dayton Public Schools.
Through these initiatives, the city of Dayton collaborated with community organizations on essential steps that will connect young people to mentoring, support networks and building skills for good jobs, college educations and careers.
He has the unique ability to leverage the youth mentoring programs he helped create with MBK and his Males of Color initiative to activate STEM learning programs for all students. This shift in educational focus would markedly help Black and other underserved Dayton Public School students prepare to participate in the booming tech economy of the future. These STEM learning programs will empower students living on the west side of Dayton to prosper from the advanced and expansive digital workforce opportunities available regionally, nationally and globally.
With so many disparities and economic inequities coinciding with the rising tide of COVID-19 both locally and nationally, the need for someone with Mims’ refined government experience, community understanding and cultural competencies couldn't be higher. For the past 40 years as a teacher, coach, community volunteer or elected leader, he has fully committed himself to improve Dayton residents' quality of life.
What Mims has accomplished over his career can now be translated and replicated on a higher level as programs benefiting all of Dayton. He has built his track record by serving Dayton's multicultural communities through many trying times. Mims is now the right leader taking office at the right time to help those same communities' while keeping their unique needs at the front of his mind.