Last updated: August 23. 2013 6:06PM - 87 Views

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LIMA — Mayor David Berger and challenger Dan Beck did not waste time being nice to one another.

With fewer than three weeks before the election, and amped up on live television, the two men attacked the records of each other during an hour-long forum broadcast on WLIO.

Beck stuck nearly exclusively to his themes of decreasing crime, increasing code enforcement and blaming the city’s economic losses on Berger and his 20 years in office.

“In the last 20 years, crime has spread through the entire city, and still no plan. Now, 80 percent of the city is eligible for federal dollars, and no plan. Children leave home to go to college, and don’t return because there are no jobs,” Beck said. “Is your life now better than last year? Five years ago? Ten? Fifteen? After 20 years, shouldn’t we have seen some progress?”

While Berger touted multiple past successes of his time in office, and said he would continue efforts under way now, neither candidate offered much to voters about specific positive directions they would take in a new term.

If Beck portrayed Berger as all talk and no action, Berger painted his challenger as lots of talk contradicted by his actions.

After Beck said he managed his sheriff’s office finances soundly, Berger swatted back with 20 years of city balanced budgets.

“I can’t turn to the commissioners and bully them into giving me more money if I overspent,” Berger said. “That was your practice, you overspent frivolously, on helicopters and scuba trips. It is directly attributable to the circumstances the county is in now.”

On the wider job of being mayor and the specific task of economic development, Berger said the job doesn’t come with the luxury of working only on law enforcement or code enforcement, of putting something “on the back burner,” but that a mayor must work toward multiple goals at the same time.

On development, Berger pointed to traditional approaches, such as the task force effort to keep open the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, and new approaches, such as his work with American Trim to create a research and development niche in the city.

Beck said Berger complicates a simple issue, and that until businesses see a safe, inviting community, they will locate elsewhere.

“I hear all these articulately pronounced things — task forcing,” Beck said. “You can do all those things, but the problem with that is that business looks for the same thing you and I do. ... They won’t come to an area that’s not safe.”

Beck hit hard on one of Berger’s greatest weaknesses, his decade of working with Global Energy to bring an electricity and synthetic natural gas plant to the city. Beck called the lack of a plant an “enigma,” and said Berger misdirected his efforts to residents’ detriment. Berger did not mention Global and never engaged with Beck on the issue.

Berger attacked Beck’s 16 years as sheriff, arguing new cooperation among police agencies, Beck’s “heavy-handed” treatment of Hispanics and a manipulating style.

“Dan panders to the fears,” Berger said. “He is constantly about the business of dividing to conquer. That’s a predictor of behavior he will have if elected.”

Heavy hitters: Berger, Beck knock each other around

Heavy hitters: Berger, Beck knock each other around

Heavy hitters: Berger, Beck knock each other around
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