A cruise around downtown Lima speaks volumes about David Berger’s 24 years as mayor.
Anchored in the center of the city is an upscale hotel, attached to a parking garage on one side and the Civic Center on the other. Nearby is the popular downtown YMCA, and Main Street is quickly becoming home to a lineup of fine dining restaurants.
Berger played a role in making each of those projects happen.
The business friendly mayor also helped broker a deal just east of the downtown that resulted in the demolition of a crime infested neighborhood known as the Snake Pit. The cleared land soon played host to a beautiful new high school.
Berger’s touch can be seen on the west side of the city, too, where his backing of a street closure allowed for an expansion of St. Rita’s Medical Center.
He’s had his goose eggs — remember the push for a downtown ice rink — but those setbacks never halted the mayor’s resolve to better Lima. Most recently his keen ability to plan for the future helped this city of 38,771 residents survive an economic downturn without suffering the pains that cities like Findlay experienced.
This body of work over more than two decades of service makes it easy for The Lima News to endorse Berger for a seventh term as mayor.
Berger continues to attack his job as if he were the Energizer Bunny. He’ll proudly tell you that he awakens every morning pumped up by the challenges facing him that day. He says he has the same energy level today as he did in 1989 when he took over as Lima’s leader. We see no signs of that not being true.
His opponent, Doug Vermillion, fashions himself a blue collar guy and a worker bee. He’s a likable man, but as a mayoral candidate, he arrives without any solutions. His strategy is to attack the mayor’s longevity. He pounds away at the declining population of the city since Berger took office and the increasing unemployment and poverty level.
How does he plan to fix it? That’s where Vermillion stumbles. His answer is a simplistic, “Elect me and I’ll figure it out.” Electing a mayor in training is the last thing Lima needs in today’s economic climate.
The Lima News has had its disagreements with the mayor. At times they’ve become heated, as in the case of issues involving the Lima Police Department and the time and resources spent on the Lima Energy project. We don’t envision four more years of Berger happening without future disagreements. One thing we’ll never question, though, is the mayor’s passion for this city. To Berger, being mayor is not a job – it’s a vocation. In that regard, he understands the community like few others. He showed this during Wednesday’s debate when he noted, matter of factly, that Lima is a city where too many residents look at the glass as being half empty, instead of half full.
Working with residents with such attitudes can be discouraging and frustrating. For Berger, it’s just part of the challenge.
Vote for David Berger on Nov. 5.