LIMA — When faced with the choice of who should take the reins of Lima administration for the next four years, voters chose experience over change.
Lima Mayor David Berger was elected to an eighth term Tuesday, defeating challenger Keith Cheney by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, a difference of 405 votes. In what was a hotly contested campaign, Berger pointed to what he called the best economy in Lima in more than 40 years, along with several projects underway as justification for staying in office, an argument that proved convincing.
“I’m really pleased at the outcome,” he said. “I really think the hundreds of people who worked with us on this campaign made the difference. We had lots and lots of people going door to door, engaging with people, talking about issues, talking about concerns, and I think we’ve created a really positive energy that I hope will help springboard the work of the next four years.”
Cheney congratulated Berger, saying, “I wish him the best in the next four years.” Cheney also expressed gratitude for his supporters and pride in his campaign.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted, but I’m proud of our campaign,” he said. “We remained positive, and the voters have spoken. The one thing I firmly believe in is democracy, and I respect the voters’ decision.”
Berger supporters pointed to his accomplishments during his tenure, even in dealing with difficult situations such as the threat of closures and economic downturns.
“I think he’s doing the best he can for the city, especially with what he’s had to work with,” Harry James, 60, said. “As far as dealing with the tank plant issues and the new projects he’s done around town, he’s been instrumental in those things.”
“He has done quite a bit for this city, the reservoirs, the manufacturing,” Dave Spicer, 63, said. “He wants to promote landlords to be accountable.”
Looking at the totals by ward, Cheney won in both the 1st and 2nd wards by 56 percent and 54 percent, respectively. The remaining wards all chose Berger, with the incumbent winning by just more than 50 percent in the 3rd Ward, 57 percent in the 4th Ward, 57 percent in the 5th Ward, 66 percent in the 6th Ward and 53 percent in the 7th Ward.
For Berger, the work continues, with several projects already underway or soon to begin.
“We do have a number of projects coming out of the ground right now,” he said. “For example, last night, Lima City Council passed the ordinance allowing us to move forward with the $42 million sewer project. We also have the Rhodes State [downtown project] that we need to ultimately get across the finish line and other projects that we want to see happen in the community.”
Berger voiced a desire to see more programs aimed at youth in Lima during his next term.
“We need to be focusing on young people in a much more methodical way,” he said. “A lot of children in our community have needs that we need to be thinking about, particularly after-school kinds of programming that can provide them with the stimulus they need.”