LIMA — Mayor David Berger challenged the tale of two houses Tuesday, saying the man opposing him is lying about living in Lima.
In a news release, Berger called on mayoral challenger Douglas Vermillion to clarify his residence. Vermillion, a retired city worker and Marion Township police chief, has owned a home on Elida Road near Delphos since 1996 and still owns it. On Dec. 24, Vermillion changed his voting residence to a home on East Murphy Street in Lima; the house is owned by his parents.
“There is a curious aspect to Mr. Vermillion’s candidacy that he must address at the outset of this election process. This concerns his claim to be a city resident. This claim is a fiction, because everyone who knows Mr. Vermillion knows that his actual home is on Elida Road near Delphos and has been for the last 17 years,” Berger said.
Ohio elections law is vague about residency, saying a voting address is the place to which a voter intends to return after being gone, Allen County elections Director Ken Terry said today. The Allen County Board of Elections approved Vermillion’s candidacy Feb. 14.
Vermillion said he moved to his parents’ home to attend to a family situation, and he lives in the home.
“I live there. It wasn’t that long ago, the mayor was trying to force city of Lima employees to be residents,” Vermillion said, referring to a policy push and lawsuit Berger was involved in. “Now he doesn’t want me to be one? I’m not exactly certain how to respond.”
Lima’s charter says the mayor must be an “elector” of the city. It does not speak to the length of time someone must live in the city before qualified as a candidate. The charter is more specific with City Council seats: To run for a ward seat, a person must live in that ward for six months before filing nominating petitions.
Vermillion changed his voting address Dec. 24 and the elections board processed the change Jan. 8, Terry said. The board verifies voting addresses by sending a piece of non-forwardable mail. If it comes back, that person must vote provisionally at the next election. If the mail does not come back, the new address is approved.
The state-set deadline has passed, Terry said, for protests of candidates on the ballot, and the city’s charter does not speak to the issue.
Vermillion said he is running to refocus the city on its future. On his website, Vermillion characterizes himself as a “worker bee” who will turn “bad ideas into honey.” He said Berger has a 20-year-plus record to run on and doesn’t need to attack his residency.
Berger said Vermillion is “thumbing his nose” at the charter’s residency requirement and disrespecting real residents of the city.
“The irony is that Mr. Vermillion was willing to collect a paycheck from the citizens of Lima for over 32 years and for the last 30 years did not live in the city,” Berger said in a statement. “Now he expects us to believe that because he signed a piece of paper at the Board of Elections a few short weeks ago he no longer lives in his home of 17 years in Marion Township. Curious. Hard to believe. Actually, not believable at all!”