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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 16, 2005

Lacey makes a second run for Dayton school board

Dayton--Gay activist and Democratic Party leader Joe Lacey is making a second run for the Dayton school board.

Lacey, 45, is a deputy auditor of Montgomery County. He ran for school board four years ago in a field of nine, and came within 1,000 votes of being seated. This year, he is the only candidate running against four incumbents--the same four he finished fifth to in 2001.

Lacey is the treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Party and was one of 12 GLBT Ohio delegates to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

The slate of four, headed by Gail Littlejohn, an attorney and wife of a Republican municipal court judge, raised and spent $257,000 to win in 2001. Lacey spent $6,000, and figures that with a smaller field, he should be able to win a seat on the seven-member board if he raises $12-15,000.

Dayton school board races are non-partisan, and the four top vote-getters November 8 will be seated. There is no primary.

Lacey said the biggest issue in the race is the school system�s administrative costs, which he says are higher than other districts, and taking money away from students.

He cites as an example the purchase of a new administration building, which cost $15 million plus the cost of renovation. The building�s previous owner, Reynolds and Reynolds, contributed $3,000 to the slate�s campaign, according to Lacey.

�They are just buying downtown office space,� said Lacey.

Lacey challenged the eligibility of one of the slate, Yvonne Isaacs, because her declaration of candidacy filed with the board of elections had the wrong address.

The board ruled against Lacey�s challenge September 12, calling it a technicality.

�If I would have won there, the race would be over,� said Lacey. �I could take it to court, but it isn�t worth it.�

Lacey, who also ran for an Ohio House seat in 2000, said he became interested in the school board when he started doing volunteer tutoring at one of the schools.

It became more important when he and his partner Tony Ballis became foster parents during the past year. The couple is now trying to adopt a baby.

Lacey said other issues in the race include the school system�s inability to attract and retain quality teachers, and fulfilling the commitment to developing neighborhood schools.

Lacey has been visibly gay in Dayton for many years, including a photo on a magazine cover for National Coming Out Day in the late 1990s. He ran his previous campaigns as an out candidate.

According to Lacey, the only time his sexual orientation was mentioned during the 2001 school board campaign was in a newspaper published by anti-gay activist and self-proclaimed �ex-gay� Greg Quinlan, which is distributed to churches.

�It just said that Dayton didn�t need someone who would fight for gay rights on the school board,� said Lacey.

During this campaign, Lacey said one of his students asked, �Are you a fag?� He noted that the Dayton schools have so far been unwilling to allow PFLAG to do teacher training, offer employees domestic partner benefits, get a non-discrimination policy for employees or adopt an anti-bullying policy that would protect LGBT students.

Lacey said he would encourage those issues to be addressed, but is cautious.

�My election would be a change of only one seat on the board,� Lacey said.



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