LIMA — With Tuesday’s general election balloting serving as the backdrop, Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick spoke Friday to members of the Allen County Republican Party about crime, drugs, government-subsidized housing — and, of course, the Lima mayoral race.
Waldick, the featured speaker at the county GOP’s monthly noon luncheon, spent the bulk of his time behind the podium pointing out what he perceives as deficiencies in the way the city of Lima has been governed over the past three decades. The speaker did not mention incumbent Lima Mayor David Berger by name, and only near the end of his talk did he invoke the name of mayoral candidate Keith Cheney.
But the message being delivered to the party faithful was nonetheless clear: A change in direction is needed.
Waldick said eight people have been murdered in Lima this year. Forty-two people have been the victims of rape and 121 have been robbed, many at gunpoint, he noted.
“Was the Lima you grew up in the same as Lima is today?” the prosecutor asked Republicans in attendance. The unmistakable response was “no.”
The prosecutor said law enforcement is the biggest single deterrent to escalating criminal activity in Lima.
“And we are blessed to have the kind of law enforcement officers we have in this county,” Waldick said. “But they can only do so much. The detective bureau at the Lima Police Department is severely understaffed, and that didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a steady decline.”
Waldick said the majority of cases handled by his office are drug-related, then pointed out that the Lima Police Department has just two investigators in its drug unit. Meanwhile, he said, the city employs four people in its code enforcement division “to see if your grass is too high.”
He lamented the high number of government-subsidized housing and food stamp recipients in the city, calling the relationship between government and those on public assistance a “learned dependence.”
“I believe in helping people out, but it can’t become a way of life. But that what it’s become over the past 28 years in Lima,” Waldick said.
“There’s something wrong with Lima. And it’s my fault,” the prosecutor continued. “For 30 years I’ve not said anything. And you know who else’s fault it is? I urge you to look in the mirror. This is our community, and we have the opportunity this year to elect someone who will deal with the issues.
“This election is about quality of life, and Keith (Cheney) has the right ideas and the right background,” Waldick concluded.