Source: Berger For Mayor“STATE & NATIONAL LEADERS PRAISE DAVE’S WORK”
LIMA — With less than a week until Election Day, campaigning is ramping up for area candidates. For Lima Mayor David Berger, part of that acceleration came in the form of support from the Ohio Democratic Party Thursday. On the same day however, Berger also faced backlash over another recent campaign tactic.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper paid a visit to the Berger campaign headquarters Thursday, bringing with him some volunteers from Columbus to help canvass neighborhoods for the campaign. For Pepper, this move is part of a deliberate effort on behalf of the party to support who they believe to be quality local candidates.
“Thanks to [Berger’s] leadership, this city is doing really well,” he said. “Frankly, other towns would be jealous if they saw the success here and progress here.”
Berger expressed gratitude for the help, saying that help has been coming from both sides of the aisle. When asked if there were concerns that getting support from the Ohio Democratic Party could foster an appearance of a partisan battle in a non-partisan election, Berger maintained that his opponent, Keith Cheney, has been determined to campaign in a partisan manner.
“My opponent has been very focused on running as a Republican and taking full advantage of Republican resources,” he said. “That is contrary to the spirit of the city’s charter, which is explicitly non-partisan. This is something he brought to his strategy, and we simply recognized that we needed to marshal resources from anywhere we could obtain them to effectively meet that challenge.”
Cheney responded by criticizing Berger’s campaign as extremely partisan, with support coming in from unions based in Washington, D.C., while he has been working with both Republicans and Democrats.
“I think the real news story is the paid personnel that have been paid over $12 an hour now for weeks to go door-to-door for the campaign, and I’m proud that all our individuals have been pure volunteers,” he said. “Also, in the literature they are distributing, the disclaimer on it says it is paid for with an address listed on it of the AFL-CIO headquarters in D.C.”
Campaign video controversy
Part of Berger’s efforts to demonstrate a bipartisan track record has included an ad published on social media and television showing video footage of Ohio Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, praising Berger for his work with the Lima Stadium Park project, along with a July 2013 quote from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, praising the “good work” Berger is doing in the city.
Each of those people, along with Leo Hawk of the AR-Hale Family Foundation, the non-profit agency that headed up the acquisition of property for Lima Stadium Park, has endorsed Keith Cheney for mayor. Shortly after Pepper’s appearance at the Berger campaign headquarters, Huffman and Hawk held a press conference two buildings down West Market Street at Huffman’s law office condemning the ad.
“I had requested that the videos be taken down and the mayor refused to do that,” Huffman said. “From the get go, I have been not only a supporter of Keith Cheney, but I encouraged him to run because I believe that the city needs change now to move forward.”
Huffman said that the comments depicted in the campaign video, which were published without his knowledge or consent, were polite compliments and pleasantries that are expected at such events and do not represent any endorsement of Berger. He also said he has never seen this kind of action in a local campaign in all his years in politics.
“I think the Berger campaign needs to be held to account for their improper, and probably illegal, use of this material in their campaign,” he said.
Hawk said he also took exception to seeing the project he worked on used as campaign material, especially after he told Berger he would not support his candidacy before the park was even dedicated.
“For him to take the festivities at the dedication of the park and put it into a commercial suggesting that I was supporting him, I take umbrage to that point,” he said.
Berger said that the footage in question has been on the city’s YouTube page for months and was at a public event. He said it demonstrates his track record of bipartisanship and he does not plan on removing the video.
“It’s public information,” he said. “I don’t believe it’s underhanded to remind the public that I work with people on both sides of the political aisle, and I believe it’s essential for good government at the local level to not be locked in partisan war.”
Cheney echoed criticisms of the video, saying it does not paint an accurate picture of Hawk’s and Huffman’s views on the election.
“I think it’s extremely shameful that a candidate would use footage from an event where, obviously, everyone was showing each other respect for the good of the community, on a project that Mr. Hawk had literally contributed his time, talent and treasures to,” he said. “To use that for political purposes is shameful.”