Five things to watch out for during elections in the Lima region


Lima turns the page on a historic moment at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, when postal voting begins across the state.

For the first time in 179 years, residents will choose a mayor who is not a white man. This election ensures that the city’s 59th mayor will be a woman, either Elizabeth Hardesty or Sharetta Smith. Both grew up in Lima, Hardesty graduated from Lima Senior High School and Smith de Perry.

Smith’s election would also see her become the first black mayor of Lima, a city where a quarter of the population is also black.

With the election of the mayor comes the retirement of David Berger, whose 32 years as mayor make him the longest-serving general manager in the city’s history.

Monday marks the last day people can register to vote.

Other races underway in the region concern school boards, town and village councils and city councilors, as well as money matters.

Here are five things to watch for in this election.

No. 1: Lima mayoral race

Some people will try to maintain that this is a non-partisan race, as the city charter says.

Don’t be fooled. It’s definitely Democrat versus Republican – Smith, 43, wearing the Democrat hat, and Hardesty, 40, wearing the Republican hat.

Both candidates spoke a lot about crime, housing, employment and economic development. There were two revelations that set them apart from each other:

• Hardesty said she would create a director of the security service to work more closely with police and firefighters. How would she pay him? It would eliminate the post of Chief of Staff, a post occupied by Smith.

• Smith has been supported by a number of unions and proudly notes, “I stood on the picket lines with the refinery workers” regarding Cenovus’ decision to outsource workers for its turnover. fall at the Lima refinery. Hardesty says she too encourages companies to hire locally, but adds, “As with any argument, there are two sides to every story. The contract was awarded to a company they chose as the best, for safety, for quality, for multiple reasons.

The two candidates also spoke a lot about leadership. Smith and Hardesty were both in elementary school when Berger was first elected mayor of Lima in 1988.

Hardesty argues that after three decades under the same leadership, it’s time for Lima to take a new approach to how the city is governed. She has never held a public office, but retorts that her scientific and business background placed her on the boards of American companies, where she played an active role in the decision-making process.

Smith says the past four years as Berger’s chief of staff have prepared her for the job. She points out that it was no coincidence that Berger served as mayor for 32 years – “people re-elected him because they loved the job he was doing,” she said.

Luggage? Both candidates were harassed. This could be the deciding factor in the race.

For Hardesty, it was a question of residence. Political donors to the Smith campaign argued that the Lima high school graduate had not resided in the city. They point out that Hardesty has a driver’s license in Pennsylvania and a vehicle registered in Texas, two states in which she worked as a geologist.

Hardesty argues that in today’s world, it’s not uncommon for professionals to live in one place and their work takes them to another. She said Lima is the city she calls her home. She points out that she has voted over the years in Lima and also kept bank accounts and a safe in Lima. She received her mail here and lives in one of the houses owned by her family. Ironically, this house is directly across from the residence Smith occupied.

The Allen County Electoral Board, the Allen County Common Pleas Court and the Third District Court of Appeals all ruled that there was no issue with Hardesty’s residence.

Smith, meanwhile, has been named in civil suits totaling nearly $ 40,000 in Toledo, Tennessee and Lima. She blamed her legal problems on student loans, her children’s medical bills, and her own lymphoma attack.

Hardesty says the lawsuits should raise a red flag over Smith’s ability to manage a budget. Smith says no.

“Some would say that my personal financial problems disqualify me from public service. I don’t agree, and I think 80% of Americans in debt – the four in five Americans who also owe money – wouldn’t agree too, ”she told Lima. News when the issue was raised last spring.

Smith also wrote about his personal challenges in a guest column on February 5, 2016, under the headline – “I love Lima, but I can’t pretend.” It was published as part of a week-long series in The Lima News: “Lima: In Black and White”.

In this column, Smith wrote: “As a young adult I made mistakes – pregnant at 18; three children at the age of 21, all born out of wedlock. I lived in Section 8 housing, shopped for groceries with food stamps, and ran to LACCA to charge for my electricity when I found myself with more months than money . I started college, quit, then started over. Time and time again, I have looked for opportunities to create a different kind of life for myself and my children.

The graduate of Perry High School would ultimately achieve that goal, becoming a lawyer and magistrate in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Smith says she did not shirk her responsibilities by paying off her debt and fully disclosed her financial difficulties to the Tennessee Supreme Court when she applied for a law license, which she granted.

No. 2: Township of Shawnee

The work of a township trustee usually revolves around managing budgets, paving roads, maintaining ditches and dealing with zoning issues. It’s not an exciting thing, but a necessary job.

In Shawnee Township, this list also includes a decision to support or fight the Birch solar farm project by Lightsource bp.

It sees five people running for the two vacant directorships – one of which was released with the retirement of Dave Belton, and the other currently held by Clark Spieles, who is running for re-election. The third director, Russ Holley, is not eligible for re-election until 2023.

Birch said the project will bring approximately $ 81 million in additional revenue to the township over its lifespan, benefiting local schools, street maintenance, fire stations, parks and others. public services. Currently, less than $ 100,000 is paid annually in traditional farm tax on project property, Lightsource bp notes on its website.

Those who oppose the project fear that it is located in a densely populated area. They fear loss of property value, potential pollution, and overall loss of wildlife habitat.

They are also concerned that if the project is approved, Lightsource bp will try in time to avoid paying the funds it promises to the community, candidate administrator James Thompson told The Lima News. He has formed a Facebook group – Against Birch Solar LLC – and is the most active candidate against the project.

The other candidates – Keith Cunningham, Michael Ayers, Ted Ciminillo and Spieles – were much less vocal about their support or opposition to the 1,410-acre solar farm.

Cunningham and Ayers entered the race with a twist: They have filed documents to run a joint campaign and make no secret that such an alliance could see them controlling most of the votes of city administrators.

“Michael and I are good friends and have similar visions for the township, so there is no reason for us to compete with each other,” Cunningham said at the time. “We have therefore chosen to advance the campaign jointly.

In addition to being a former chairman of the Lima City Council, Cunningham has also served as the director of the Allen County Council of Elections. Ayers has a local photography business.

No. 3: School boards

There were years when school boards in the area did not have enough applicants to fill vacancies.

This is not the case this year in Allen County.

Eight of the nine public school districts will have contested races for school board seats, with the Bath School District being the only exception.

Five people are looking for the three vacancies for Elida schools.

Allen East, Bluffton, Delphos, Shawnee and Spencerville each have four people looking for three positions.

Perry and Lima schools have three people looking for two openings.

Number 4: Pleasant canton

If five people are running for two open director positions is any indication, things may not be so good in Pleasant Township of Putnam County.

The township has 3,600 inhabitants, according to the 2019 census estimates. It sits inside a square with Ottawa, Kalida, Columbus Grove and Pandora constituting its boundaries.

Incumbent candidates Bruce A. Schroeder, R. Brent Glass, Jeff Hoyt, Jordan Pingle and Cory J. Smith are vying for both seats.

The Pleasant Township race is part of a particularly busy ballot for township races in Putnam County, with six of 15 townships competing. In addition to the Township of Pleasant, the townships of Perry and Riley have four people requesting two seats. The townships of Jackson, Monroe and Palmer have three people vying for two openings.

No. 5: The participation rate

Keep an eye on voter turnout. In any election, a few votes can decide the winner.

Four years ago, in an election similar to this year, three more votes would have made Carl Miller a Beaverdam alderman, Andrew Caprella a Harrod alderman and William Motter a Waynesfield alderman.

Then there’s the infamous Lima mayoral race in 1985, when three-term mayor Harry Moyer lost to Gene Joseph by four votes.

To this day, many Lima residents will quietly admit that they did not vote because they believed Moyer would win easily.

And to this day, the Joseph-Moyer race remains one of the biggest upheavals in Lima’s political history.

SHARETTA SMITH

ELIZABETH HARDESTY

Lima Mayor David Berger waves to the crowd in his final Labor Day parade as the city’s general manager. Berger is retiring and on November 2 voters will choose between Elizabeth Hardesty and Sharetta Smith as the town’s new mayor. It will be the first time that Lima will have a woman as mayor.

Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at [email protected] or call 567-242-0391


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