With another November election day nearly upon us, many have, in the pre-election period, already made their decision on Lima’s mayoral race, while the traditionalists cling to that notion that there is something magical about the early-dawn hours in a traditional voting precinct.
Even those whose political apathies are pretty easy to spot, I think, are intrigued by local races, perhaps even more so than state and national races, feeling the local ones have more of an impact of their day-to-day lives.
As I do each election season, I always play a little game as I drive around my town. With each block through which I pass, I count the candidate lawn signs to provide a possible glimpse into the outcomes for the various races. And, from what I’ve seen, I think this mayoral race just may be the closest our incumbent has had since first winning the seat in 1989.
As for this election, I think the point of greatest interest for many is an oft-debated question when it comes to politicians, and that is, should every political post be term-limited to allow for fresh ideas and new perspectives, or should there still be positions where one individual can be accorded something akin to emperor status and remain in a job for as long as non-politicos work in the private sector? Another term for our local incumbent would push him over three decades by term’s end.
Whenever I hear of such domination of a public office, and, of course, when it comes to mayors, there have been several who were called “Mr. Mayor” longer than ours, such as Brooklyn, Ohio’s John Coyne, who lived to be 98 and was mayor of his city for 52 of them. I can’t help but wonder what our Founding Fathers would think about any public servant dominating a position for such an extended period of time.
Whenever I think of such mayoral dynasties, my birth city of Chicago comes to mind because the domination was split into two parts by a father-son combination with a gap of a dozen years before Richard II was ready. Of course, we’re talking about the two Daleys — father Richard J. and son Richard M. — who combined for 43 years of taking the corner office in City Hall.
So, of course, there is some precedent for those who really like the view from a mayoral perch so much, they refuse to climb down from that perch. And, that has prompted some cities to remove all temptation to bestow imperial status on those who refuse to move on. Take Bethlehem, Pa., which enacted some years ago a two-term limit on the mayoral job.
Now, I suppose what our race may very well come down to is a difference in opinion between those who eschew the notion of term limits, feeling that it wouldn’t be fair to prevent someone who has done a good job in their opinion from continuing to do that job, and those who feel that the public is best served when there is an infusion of new blood when it comes to any public-office position, either local, state or federal in origin.
So, we’ll see how all this plays itself out. What’ll it be, Lima? Do you want someone to crack that three-decade line so often seen in monarchies, or do you want someone with fresh ideas that just may have a different way of encouraging new business and addressing crime and such to move our city forward?
The wait is almost over. I’ve already pulled my metaphorical lever, and if you can guess for whom, I’ve failed in my mission to write what would be so difficult for many of our politicians, a non-partisan piece.
I think I may just hop in my car one more time and count those signs!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at email@example.com.