Nan Whaley has a lot of firsts under her belt. In 2005, at age 29, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Dayton City Commission. She was elected mayor in 2013 by a double-digit margin, becoming the youngest current leader of any of Ohio’s six largest cities. In 2017, Politico named her one of its “Mayors Going Places.”
The opioid crisis has been a defining challenge of Whaley’s tenure, and she has pitched her city’s response effort as a model for the nation. Dayton was among the first jurisdictions in Ohio to declare a state of emergency; the city launched a syringe exchange program that prevents the spread of disease and connects users to the treatment they need. Meanwhile, Dayton’s police and fire departments are partnering on a Mobile Crisis Response Team, working with families on prevention and recovery.
Whaley made waves as a candidate in the 2018 Ohio governor’s race; ultimately, she suspended her campaign prior to the primary. She has a reputation for being straightforward and candid. “I have such an impatience about getting stuff done that I don’t have time to dance around these issues,” she says.