If crime becomes the issue that tilts Lima’s mayoral race four months from now, the first week of July may be the anchor that keeps one of Ohio’s longest serving mayors from answering the bell for a ninth term.
The week started bad and didn’t get better.
It included gang violence, a home invasion and a bar room murder — not the type of stuff that bodes well for a candidate who has been trying to convince voters that Lima’s crime rate is on the decline.
That’s the table Mayor David Berger finds himself sitting at today.
On a July 1 Saturday night, Lima went to bed with gang members doing what gang members do — shooting at each other. Only this time it was in the parking lot of the Family Dollar store at the corner of South Main and Elm streets. Keep in mind this is across the street from Lima’s Family YMCA and less than two blocks from the Civic Center and what’s to be the prized Rhodes State College downtown campus.
It wasn’t just one or two shots being fired either. Police say lead was flying in all directions with more than 30 shots being sprayed from numerous shooters. Luckily, no gang member could be confused with Wyatt Earp as only two people were injured.
More trouble came the next day, this time on Bikini Drive. Around 2:20 p.m. — in broad daylight — the quiet dead end street off North Cole Street saw two men in their late teens or early 20s force their way into a residence. Several people who were occupying the residence were robbed at gunpoint. After committing the robbery, the men stole a car from one of the residents, drove for a short distance and then fled on foot.
Then Wednesday morning, five minutes before last call at The Gas Station Bar, death arrived with the city’s fourth homicide. Davohn M. Godsey, 36, of Lima, was gunned down inside the North Street building that’s a known trouble spot. It once was occupied by the recently closed G-Spot Bar.
The mayor took the first two strikes with the bat on his shoulder, then finally came out swinging.
“We will not tolerate it,” he vowed, pledging to use the city’s many resources to take action against those responsible for the murder. Later, he would have a lawsuit filed against those connected with the Gas Station Bar.
But “tolerating it” is exactly what his opponent, Keith Cheney, says has been going on for nearly three decades.
“This is another prime example of how Mayor David Berger has miserably failed in his primary job of providing safety for our city’s residents,” Cheney said.
Berger has been hit on the crime issue in previous elections, most notably by former Sheriff Dan Beck. Berger has always been able to survive thanks to his strong fiscal management, his command of the economy, and his understanding of the complexities of the job.
That may not be enough this go-around, especially with the gang issues popping up in the news on a regular basis.
A lot can happen in the four months before an election, but don’t look for the crime issue to go away.
ROSES AND THORNS: A true champion finds a spot in the rose garden.
Rose: To Cory Lee, of Spencerville. He ate eight Kewpee hamburgers in 10 minutes to win the inaugural Kewpee Hamburger Eating Championship during the Star Spangled Spectacular.
Rose: To Tom Dautenhahn and Linda Clay, who recently won medals during the 2017 National Senior Olympics held in Birmingham, Alabama. Dautenhahn won a gold medal in mixed doubles tennis, a sixth-place ribbon in men’s doubles tennis and a seventh-place ribbon in doubles table tennis. He participated in the 80 to 84 year age bracket. Linda Clay won a silver medal in singles table tennis and a gold in doubles table tennis.
Rose: To the new inductees into the Allen County Agricultural Hall of Fame: Wendla Black, Mark Hershberger, Calvin Kiracofe and Robert and June Polter.
Rose: To Lima City Councilman Derry Glenn, who is collecting donations of air-conditioners for the elderly.
Rose:To Sylvia Clark, who opened Scoops Taste and See Ice Cream Shop on East Fourth Street in Lima. A town can never have enough ice cream shops.
Thorn: An 8-year-old boy in American Township had access to a gun and accidentally shot a 10-year-old boy, who was taken to St. Rita’s Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
Thorn: To Ian Taylor, of Van Wert. He was allowed to leave the county jail for a medical appointment and never came back.
PARTING SHOT: Any married man should forget his mistakes, there’s no use in two people remembering the same thing.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.