Time might not place Gene Joseph prominently among Lima's leaders, though his legacy continues today. He spent one term as mayor after serving more than a dozen years as a member of City Council.Joseph died Thursday. He was 86. However history remembers Joseph, both his electoral success and failure underscore the importance of voting. Joseph was 12 votes short of becoming City Council president in 1979. Six years later, Joseph would win the mayor's race by four votes. Joseph ran for mayor in 1985, promising to re-open Lima's Town Square, which had been closed to traffic for years. There was no going straight through on Main or Market streets, nor could you turn from one of those streets to the other. Joseph corrected that, as he promised to do in his campaign.Joseph also did other things during his one term as Lima's mayor: He oversaw the creation of Industrial Avenue on Lima's east side, and he worked to get older buildings demolished, as well as to repair sidewalks and streets.Like most people who serve in local government, Joseph wasn't a career politician seeking to climb to higher office. He spent 38 years with United Telephone Co., going from lineman to district supervisor. In 1972, he won his first term on City Council, where he became a dogged advocate of the 7th Ward and a frequent thorn in the side of Mayor Harry Moyer.Joseph tried to win the council president's seat in the 1979 election, but Furl Williams beat him by 12 votes. In 1985, Joseph would continue frustrating Moyer, this time unseating the incumbent mayor by just four votes.Joseph's time in office probably could be best summarized by the fact that he was one of six candidates running for the mayor's job in 1989. Joseph didn't even make it out of the primary, and David Berger went on to win the first of his current six terms as Lima's mayor.It shows that every vote counts. That's worth remembering as Lima and other places ready to vote in local government races this November.And Lima's Town Square remains open to traffic.
Editorial: Joseph, the importance of voting