Name: Carolyn Rice
City of Residence: Centerville, OH
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Office Sought: Montgomery County Commissioner
Election Website: http://www.carolynrice.com
Why should you be elected?
My work and volunteer life have given me a broad view, a context for the issues this region will face in the coming years. My background includes 14 years in business; 6 years in public education – as an elementary special education teacher and as staff at Wright State University; 11 years in county government; and a lifetime of volunteer work, from reading to elementary school students with my Rotary Club to serving on the board of the Dayton Council on World Affairs, an interest I have held since high school.
When I see problems, I try to find a solution to improve the situation. When I became Montgomery County Treasurer, the county and the rest of the country were beginning to deal with the fallout of the Great Recession. We were experiencing historic numbers of foreclosures, families struggling with a wide range of financial issues, increasing numbers of abandoned houses, and neighborhoods succumbing to blight. I worked with state and local officials to create the Montgomery County Land Bank, which has generated more than $26 million to remove blight and revitalize neighborhoods over the past seven years. For more than five years, I funded the foreclosure mediation program in our county resulting in more than 1,250 families being able to stay in their homes. In addition, because we recognized that people with tax troubles often had a myriad of other problems, my office developed a relationship with United Way’s Helplink 2-1-1, and we began referring people for additional services. These initiatives are not in the Treasurer’s job description, but they were the right thing to do to help solve some very real problems in our community.
My perspective and the decisions I make are informed by hearing from many people with diverse views. During my time as Treasurer, I have made it a point to visit regularly with all the subdivisions and bodies that comprise this county: 17 cities, five villages, nine townships, 16 school boards, and the career technology center. I have listened to the concerns of elected officials and citizens, and I will continue to advocate for bringing many voices to the table to strengthen our region.
Top Three Priorities:
The county’s biggest issue is ensuring that we have a balanced budget every year, especially in the face of more than $30 million in revenue cuts by the state. We have absorbed those cuts and have still managed to maintain a high level of services, despite cutting more than 500 county jobs in recent years. I’m committed to continually reviewing our expenditures and revenue and making certain that we are meeting the goals we set and continuing to serve the needs of our residents.
The opioid crisis is having a devastating effect on our community, with a deep impact on families, our health care and mental health systems, and our criminal justice system. It is the result of a perfect storm of circumstances. Montgomery County was hit hard by the Great Recession and with lost jobs came reduced access to health care. In the meantime, opioids were being over-prescribed – more prescriptions were written between 2005 and 2015 than we have residents in the county. And when residents no longer had access or could no longer afford prescription drugs, criminals had easy access to our community because we sit at a crossroads of major interstates.
Montgomery County has approached this as a public health crisis and we’ve made some progress – reducing the number of deaths by overdose each month by about half – but we are still seeing far too many families destroyed by these tragedies. I’m happy the county has decided to pursue litigation against the drug-makers, but we have much, much more to do.
All of these issues, though, tie back to economic and workforce development. When people have good jobs, they can invest in their communities and their homes; they have access to health care and treatment. We must continue the success we’ve had in bringing good paying jobs, with benefits, to Montgomery County. Employment in the Dayton metro area grew 2.4 percent between 2016 and 2017 – 10,700 new jobs – and we have to keep that up.
I am a native of Dayton and received my Bachelor of Science in Education from Miami University of Ohio and my Master of Business Administration from Wright State University. I was an elementary school teacher working with students with special needs and learning disabilities for three years early in my career. Later in my career, I served as the Director of Executive Education for Wright State’s business school for three years. I completed the Genesee Institute’s Community Land Reform Initiatives executive education program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School in 2009. My husband Mike and I have been married for 43 years, we have two grown children, four young grandchildren, and two rescue dogs.
I have served as the Montgomery County Treasurer since February 2007. I chair the County’s Investment Advisory Committee, and I am a member of the Budget Commission and the County’s Data Processing and Microfilm Boards. I serve as First Vice President for the County Treasurers Association of Ohio (CTAO) and on CTAO’s Legislative Committee. In 2011, the Montgomery County Treasurer’s Office received the Marquis Award for Innovation from the Electronic Payments Core of Knowledge (EPCOR), a not-for-profit trade association with more than 2,300 members representing banks, credit unions, and affiliated financial agencies in a 12-state region. Throughout my tenure as Treasurer, I have increased tax collections, improved business operations, and safeguarded taxpayer dollars.
In addition to my duties as Treasurer, I have served as the Chair of the Montgomery County Land Reutilization Corporation, better known as the Montgomery County Land Bank, since it was created in 2011. I have chaired the Land Bank Committee of the County Treasurers Association of Ohio (CTAO) for the past five years. I lead the Montgomery County Vacant Properties Solutions (MVPS) – a group comprised of a variety of key stakeholders who meet monthly to share best practices and address the blight crisis.
Prior to serving as County Treasurer, I worked 14 years in the private sector for a variety of organizations including Reynolds & Reynolds, LexisNexis, and Dames & Moore. My leadership and business skills resulted in promotions to positions of increasing responsibilities within those organizations.
I am active in the community and have served on the boards of the Rotary Club of Dayton (currently Peace Committee Chair), Dayton Council on World Affairs also known as DCOWA (currently Membership and Marketing Committee Chair), and Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services. I am a member of the Dayton Sister City Committee and serve as a Co-Chair for the Holon, Israel initiative. In 2015, I chaired the logistics committees for the Dayton Peace Accords at 20 Commemoration. In the summer of 2016, I was a member of the Dayton delegation that traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to visit Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and Mostar to build upon existing relationships and to explore opportunities for international service projects our communities might pursue in the future. I was recognized as a Peace Hero at Dayton’s Peace Heroes Walk that took place on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.
Much of my volunteer time has been focused on youth. My husband Mike and I have hosted numerous international guests in our home through various exchange programs ranging from Rotary Youth Exchange to young professionals from other countries through Group Study Exchange and DCOWA’s International Visitor Leadership Program. During the 2015-2016 school year, we hosted a 17-year old girl from Mostar, BiH in our home through the Rotary Youth Exchange program. During the 2016-2017 school year, we hosted a 15-year old girl from Los Cabos, Mexico through Rotary Youth Exchange. I was a College Promise mentor for a Carroll High School student from August 2013 through May 2017. I have taught Junior Achievement lessons at local schools and read to elementary children in the Dayton Public School system through the Rotary Reads program for more than five years.