The race for Lima City Council’s 3rd Ward seat boils down to a question of advocacy.
Do residents want someone who will continue to fiercely defend their wishes, or is it time to bring in someone who is less about fighting and more about creating unity?
Residents received their first taste of Jesse Lowe eight years ago when he came in as a newcomer and won the council seat by five votes. People didn’t really have a problem with the job done by then incumbent, Kyle Lewis; they just liked the advocacy of Lowe, who had grabbed national attention the year prior with his “Drugs Bring Death” movement in Lima.
Lowe didn’t disappoint, becoming one of City Council’s most outspoken members. When 2013 rolled around, he wasn’t even contested.
That’s now changed, and ironically, it is a political newcomer who hopes to turn the tables on Lowe on Nov. 7. Carla Thompson – like Lowe of 2009 – is a self-described political activist with a lot of energy. She has been quietly raising eyebrows as she talks of fostering a greater sense of community and neighborhood ownership.
“I would like to encourage people to be more neighborhood and community oriented,” she says. “I want to see more outreach between the businesses and the neighborhoods around it.”
Unity is great, Lowe will tell you, but he’s there for the people and votes accordingly. “When they speak to me and tell me what’s going on and how they feel about different legislation, I vote according to how they like it.”
That’s why Lowe says he’s had so many clashes with Lima Mayor David Berger. Lowe maintains Berger gives the 3rd Ward a cold shoulder by refusing to meet with him. Berger, meanwhile, sees Lowe as a roadblock to progress.
“Some people think I have it out for Dave Berger. I don’t have it out for Berger,” Lowe says. “I don’t hate Dave Berger. I just don’t think he’s a good mayor. A leader has to be able to listen to people.”
Thompson sees herself as someone who can build trust.
“I have a passion for advocacy and the ability to problem solve,” she says. “I have the skills to be able to research, to gather facts. I have a sense of advocacy for what is right and fair … a sense of empathy. I feel other people’s pain and joy.”
Lowe easily won the three-way May Primary, almost doubling the amount of votes he had over Thompson, who advanced into November’s General Election with her second-place finish. If she would beat Lowe it would be considered a major upset.
Voters will be deciding to stay the course or seek someone who can be a better negotiator.