DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Candidates for Dayton’s Mayor and City Commission held a public forum Sunday, with a little over a week away until elections take place. Only three candidates between Mayor and City Commission spoke with residents and their message is clear, right now they believe the city needs a servant leader for the community.

“Right now we need a servant leader that’s willing to work for the people and Dayton regardless of their economic status, skin color, religious beliefs,” said City Commission Candidate Shenise Turner-Sloss. “We need someone in office that’s willing to speak up, stand up, and speak loudly in terms of what the residents of the city of Dayton are in need of.”

Candidates running for various city roles echoed each other, calling for major change for the community. On the stage was Shenise Turner-Sloss and Darryl Fairchild running for Dayton City Commission and Rennes Bowers vying for Dayton’s Mayor. Integrity, honesty and character were among the list of important qualities for candidates.

“In my type of leadership it’s not scaled, it’s not top-to-down, it’s bottom up,” said Bowers. “The citizens in this city need that type of leadership. someone who will serve them, not the vice versa, the commission or mayors attitude right now is ‘let the citizens serve me.’”

Other candidates promised peaceful solutions and said the community should be taking the lead on how to help improve the City of Dayton.

“Sometimes I’ve been a leader at the front or follower in the back and sometimes I’ve been in the middle,” said Fairchild. “What I quickly figured out is that in each role, you can find a way to lead. If you’re in the middle, being a good follower and demonstrating to those around you how to contribute brings others up.”

Residents that attended Sunday’s forum said they’re looking for major change.

“I think what Dayton needs most is change, Dayton has had a lot of leaders, I’ve been here since 1988 and I keep hearing the same things over and over, they say they need more money and then a lot of it is constant inference of racial problems that cause the strife when I don’t believe that to be true,” said Dayton Resident Charles Jackson.

Residents urged for the next city leaders to address the recent surge of drug abuse, be transparent about the community’s budget,  but most importantly, listen to their community.

“The thought of seeing several empty houses on one street made me ill and one lady I spoke with said she was afraid to put her trash out because of the criminals in abandoned homes,” said Dayton Resident Robin Brown. “She can’t even take her trash out, that made me sad and I wish I could fix that, maybe I can with my vote.”

As the economy continues to recover from pandemic restrictions, others urge leaders to shift their focus onto Dayton’s homeless community increasing and providing opportunities for the city’s housing to grow.

“I appreciate the restaurants and draw for downtown but what happens after that?” said Linden Ave. Baptist Church Pastor Pamela Wantz. “Families want to make a home here and they want something bigger than a townhome downtown, where do they move to? Not in Dayton.”

Candidates encouraged residents to continue to have these open conversations with them, the chance to vote will be next Tuesday.