DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Tuesday, many candidates will be elected to office for the first time.
But as well, one Dayton official will be saying goodbye after nearly two decades of service.
In 1993, Dean Lovelace took his left hand and placed it on the bible. His right hand lifted towards the air.
Lovelace had just won a special election race to become the 67th Dayton city commissioner.
“Feels like I’ve been here a long time,” Lovelace laughed after hearing the words he just uttered. “It feels like– that it’s time to go. It’s someone else’s turn.”
22 years later, he holds the record for longest-serving commissioner.
Lovelace landed in the Gem City after his family moved here from Ford City, Pennsylvania when he was a kid.
Even then, he quickly became an advocate for Dayton residents.
The commissioner is humble, but his colleagues, like Commissioner Jeffrey Mims, have no problem highlighting Lovelace’s accomplishments; the two were high school classmates.
“He was a leader back then, he’s continues to be a leader in the Dayton community, primarily his fight for human rights,” Mims detailed when speaking of his former classmates, also highlighting Lovelace’s amazing abilities on the track field and in geometry class.
Lovelace says he always wanted to be out-front and in the community.
He created policy to reduce poverty city-wide.
“He was the commissioner that was always the social justice commissioner, really engaged int he neighborhoods and listening to the people that live and breathe in our city every single day,” Mayor Nan Whaley described of the man she’s worked with for nearly 10 years.
Lovelace’s work also allows resident to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. It’s a way to for Dayton families to get a little extra in their pockets when tax season comes around.
His other platform was making sure Dayton residents did not face predatory lending.
Commissioner Joey Williams, a banker by day, witnessed Lovelace’s dedication to this cause.
“He’s always has done a really good job of certainly fighting for the cause, but also doing it in a fair way that made sense to both sides so much so a lot of bankers and banks got together to make sure they do the right thing,” the banking executive reflected.
Lovelace ultimately helped pass the Responsible Lending legislation, but he’s still hard on himself about his work.
Asked if there was anything he wished he had done as a city official, Lovelace paused and answered, “Yeah goes back to the banks. I wish I could have put more pressure on one lender in this town to keep a bank open.”
But this is not a regret.
Lovelace says he did what he came here to do, serve the City of Dayton.
When he hears the final gavel hit of his career as a public servant, he says he’ll be thinking about, “Going home and not having to wake up on the mornings, on Wednesday morning. It’s going to be a good time to just rest and relax.”
Commissioner Lovelace’s last day will be January 4 and the next commissioner will be elected Tuesday.
2 NEWS asked Lovelace what advice he has for the man who will be elected to his seat.
He tells 2 NEWS’ Beairshelle Edmé that person will have to listen to both the, “big guy and the little guy.”
We put up information about these candidates here.