David Berger isnít bored.
Thatís a good thing, as it shows the longest-serving mayor in Limaís history understands the challenges ahead. He still cares enough to try to solve them, as he filed his paperwork to run for a seventh term as the cityís leader.
ďIf I was bored, I would simply move on,Ē Berger said earlier this week while filing his re-election paperwork. ďIím not bored. Every day I get up there are new challenges I have to think about, I have to study, I have to engage with people.Ē
Weíre happy to hear heís up for a challenge, as this city will continue to present challenges to whomever is the next mayor.
First and foremost, we hope more qualified candidates come forward. This is no knock on Berger; we simply prefer to see an open and fair electoral process. We all like to have choices. It brings out the best in all candidates when they debate the issues facing our city during the primary and general elections.
Like most governments, a bulk of the problems are monetary. Lima did a better job of mitigating its financial woes before they became a crisis than some places. (Weíre looking in your direction, oh fiscal mess of Findlay.) Still, times are tight, and thereís no telling what challenges the next state budget might bring to local municipalities.
Lima also has looming problems with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It demands a major overhaul of our sewer system, whether we can afford it or not and whether its solutions really work or not. Berger has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. EPA mandates, as any mayor should when a proposed plan could cost $100 million. Unfortunately, Lima hasnít seen relief as a result of Bergerís criticism, making us wonder if itís really that effective of a technique.
The city continues to have enormous economic development potential. The rebuilt Interstate 75 corridor only help cement Limaís position as a major thoroughfare, particularly with our proximity to U.S. 30. We hope with the change in leadership in Allen Economic Development Group that Lima finds a way to truly market itself and bring good-paying jobs to a city anxious to get back to work at full capacity.
The next mayor of Lima must also focus his economic attention on making sure the workers we do have are properly trained. The city must be a leader in gathering grants and providing opportunities for training to fill the skilled labor jobs we already have. After all, there are top-paying jobs out there that simply donít have a local workforce trained to take.
We also need a mayor with strong leadership skills to get the most out of the police and fire departments in the city. We still have an underrepresented minority community in these departments, a real danger in a city with a 26.5 percent black population.
Looking at our population, we need a mayor who can help stabilize the declining population here, a 3 percent decline from 2010 to 2000 that was considerably higher than the 1.97 percent decline for Allen County as a whole.
Itís a challenging position. We hope all the eventual candidates are up for a challenge because, as Berger said, itís never boring here.