4 outgoing Middletown City Council members look back, offer advice

Mayor, vice mayor, 2 council members not returning in 2024.

MIDDLETOWN — City Council will have a different look in 2024, so the Journal-News is looking back at the tenure of the four outgoing council members.

Mayor Nicole Condrey and Vice Mayor Monica Thomas chose not to seek re-election as did council member Tal Moon, who served eight years.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Then, in November, council member Rodney Muterspaw announced he was resigning after two years of his four-year term. Muterspaw, the city’s former police chief, cited his family’s health as his main reason for stepping down.

That means Zack Ferrell, who was elected four years ago, is the lone member returning to council.

Elizabeth Slamka was elected mayor, and Jennifer Carter and Steve West II were elected to council. Paul Horn was selected by City Council members to fulfill Muterspaw’s unexpired term.

QUESTION: Looking back at your time on council, what was council’s most important accomplishment?

Condrey: Increased citizen engagement. While listening to citizens has always been a tenant of Middletown City Council, this particular council (in each of our own ways) made renewed efforts to engage citizens and meet them in the format of communications that best suited them. We sought their opinions, supported their efforts and assisted them in feeling as though they own the process of governance in their own city. As a result, I believe we saw increased citizen engagement.

Moon: Council and staff have a lot to be proud of. We’ve invested in our youth and community, embarking on a $6 million renovation and expansion at the Sonny Hill Community Center, which will see new programing for kids and residents. At the airport the workforce of the future is being prepared at Butler Tech’s Aviation Pathway program. The students and community will soon enjoy a beautiful new Butler Tech facility with the construction of a $13 million building which will have a hangar, labs, classrooms and community space. Our base 1.5% income tax revenue, which doesn’t include either the public safety levy or paving levy, should end the year at just over $30 million, up from $19 million in 2016. Our roads have been dramatically improved, with the paving levy alone repairing roughly 1/3 of all streets in the city.

However, when we look back in 10 to 20 years the most impactful accomplishment will be the Renaissance Pointe Entertainment District. The construction project alone will bring $200 million in investment. Once fully built, Middletown will see 450,000 unique visitors a year visit Middletown. Even before a shovel has been put in the dirt, this development has already spurred new business in town and will have a catalytic effect on economic growth for years to come.

Credit: McCrabb, Richard (COP-Dayton)

Credit: McCrabb, Richard (COP-Dayton)

Muterspaw: I think when I came two years ago my priorities were increasing public safety staffing, stopping Hollywoodland from happening and really diving into the interstate event center project. I believe the event center project is probably the most important thing we’ve done in the last few years. If done right it will be a game changer and mirror Austin Landing and Liberty Center. It’s long overdue. I’m also happy we increased police staffing from 72 to 80 during our council tenure. To me that’s huge.

Thomas: I believe our focus on infrastructure improvement helped us accomplish two very challenging projects, with the help of the taxpayers. They allowed us to vote to approve four new fire stations and re-pave a third of our lane miles in just three years.

QUESTION: What project or problem do you wish would have been addressed or fixed while you were on council?

Condrey: Code enforcement. Code enforcement. Code enforcement. Middletown will not progress without taking ownership over the upkeep, cleanliness, and appearance of our city. We have laws in place to keep things tidy, safe and sanitary, but we continue to accept the blight, which appears as a lack of pride in our own city.

Moon: Our neighborhoods and housing stock haven’t seen enough attention or investment. Unfortunately we’ve seen the same neighborhoods struggle for decades and I’m disappointed we didn’t get more accomplished. I know this is a focus of the next City Council, and I’m excited to watch the progress they make.

Muterspaw: I wish we could’ve gotten something done with the Amanda area sewer problems. That’s an expensive fix but that neighborhood deserves better. It just didn’t seem to be a priority for some people. I would say the aquatic center also but I know that’s being discussed by the new council.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Thomas: In my time on council, I wish we could have made more progress in developing city owned properties and vacant lots. There is a lot of opportunity in seeing both our historic properties and key acreage sites developed into meaningful projects. I am excited to see the Roosevelt school site become an example of this potential, and to see what the next council is able to accomplish.

QUESTION: What advice would you give the incoming council members and mayor?

Condrey: Making the right decisions for the right reasons eliminates regret. Incongruence of opinions is a strength and indicates you are representing the people properly as a team. Embrace it. How you use the difference of opinions to formulate the best educated path forward for Middletown is the key. Decisions become stronger through open discussions and open minds. If you don’t understand something, ask. Most likely, neither do the citizens, and they appreciate your willingness to demonstrate vulnerability through questions. You will never regret a moment spent with community members in your official capacity; you never know whom you are inspiring.

Moon: Communicate and build relationships not only with the public but, with your fellow council members. If you don’t have relationships with your council colleagues, it will severely hamstring your ability to be effective. Look long term and don’t be anxious for a quick win. Most times in this job you only get one chance to get it right. Therefore, don’t think about where you want the city to be in 5 or 10 years but in 20, 30 or 40 years.

Muterspaw: The best advice I can give is to make sure staff is accountable when calling back or emailing back community members who reach out to them. That seems to be a problem. Council also needs to prioritize as a group to make sure everybody’s on the same page when it comes to projects. Stop listening to the 20 loudest people in the city and start listening to the entire community.

Thomas: My advice for the new council is the same as my mom always gave me, “There are two sides to every pancake.” In order to make good decisions and good pancakes, you have to consider how your actions will impact both sides. You also don’t want a situation where one side is seemingly perfect while the other is burnt. Butter and sugar can only get you so far!


Jennifer Carter: Elected to a four-year term as council member.

Zack Ferrell: Two years remaining on his four-year term as council member.

Paul Horn: Two years remaining on unexpired, four-year term, replacing Rodney Muterspaw as council member.

Elizabeth Slamka: Elected to a four-year term as mayor.

Steve West II: Elected to a four-year term as council member.


Nicole Condrey: Didn’t seek re-election as mayor after four-year term.

Tal Moon: Didn’t seek re-election after eight years as council member.

Rodney Muterspaw: Resigned as council member due to family health issues.

Monica Thomas: Didn’t seek re-election as vice-mayor after four-year term.

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