Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, center, and Jeff Cooper, right, Montgomery County health commissioner, listen during a meeting by a steering committee of a new Community Overdose Action Team response to the heroin crisis. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

Dan Foley reflects on successes, shortfalls and unfinished business

Dan Foley will cast his final votes as a Montgomery County commissioner this afternoon. The Democrat announced in 2017 he would wouldn’t run again for the commission seat and instead set his sights on the Statehouse — a bid that fell 137 votes short in November.

Foley has spent almost 25 years in county government. He served as Montgomery County Clerk of Courts from 2000-2006 and has been county commissioner since 2007.

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Foley said he’s “grateful” for the “real honor” to serve the citizens of Montgomery County. He doesn’t know what’s next but said he will remain in the area where he has “really strong roots.”

“To be honest, I was so focused on the state representative campaign, I really threw myself all in on that that I really made that my first priority,” Foley said. “I’ll take the next few weeks — the next month and a half or so — and really kind of be thoughtful about where I think I can make the biggest impact in the community. At this point I’m just not sure what my next step in life is.”

Foley said he notched successes and experienced setbacks as a public official.

As clerk of courts, Foley had a hand in creating the multi-county criminal justice information system JusticeWeb. As a county commissioner, he cites economic development wins that helped diversify a local economy after hits to traditional manufacturing.

Here are a couple other accomplishments Foley cited, one initiative he pushed that gained little public traction and a bit of unfinished business.

Montgomery County Fairgrounds

After five years of constant work and many fits and starts, the county held its first fair this year at the new Montgomery County Fairgrounds & Event Center in Jefferson Twp. this year. The move also opened up the former site on South Main Street in Dayton for redevelopment.

“I worked really hard the fairgrounds project. Like any project that you feel good about, you take some bumps and bruises, and that one we did. But we got it done.”

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Community Overdose Action Team

As the opioid crisis tore into the community, Foley helped spearhead a local effort beginning in late 2016 that brought together 100-plus organizations to battle the epidemic. COAT has been among the many local efforts credited overdose deaths falling to a three-year low during 2018.

“Our community deserves so much credit for the hard work we’ve all put forth to reduce the number of opiate deaths through the COAT. And it is working. Fewer people are dying. That’s always been the goal. We have work to do, but we should feel good about that.”

RELATED: Local overdose crisis response earns county national award

Dayton Together

Foley, a proponent for regional governmental cooperation, proposed in 2015 to merge the governments of Montgomery County and the city of Dayton. The controversial plan, which put him at odds with many in his own party, was eventually dropped.

“I actually feel good about the work we tried to do on the Dayton Together stuff — metrogov. I know that the community kind of let us know that that it wasn’t time for that idea. But really, I feel good we raised the discussion about how do you get government to maybe get around the same table better.

“We built a model — it’s actually at the Wright State archives. If the community is ever ready to take that up at some point, whoever does won’t have to start from scratch.”

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Bail reform

Foley said one priority during his final months in office was working on ways to keep non-violent people without means out of jail.

“I’ve also been focused on pre-trial justice on bail reform and I think that even though Issue 1 went down to defeat, I think this whole notion of bail reform and pre-trial justice is not only a bipartisan idea, I think we’re going to start to head in that direction where we are smarter about keeping communities safe and also keeping people out of the justice system that shouldn’t be there.”

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