LIMA — All four of the Lima City Council positions up for re-election in 2019 have received challengers, with many new candidates seeking first-time political office.
Per Lima’s charter, candidates for city council have to file 90 days prior to the primary election scheduled on May 7. Candidate filings released this past week set up four races:
• Council, president: John Nixon (I), Josiah Mathews
• Council, 2nd Ward: Sam McLean (I), Tony Wilkerson
• Council, 4th Ward: Rebecca Kreher (I), Peggy Ehora
• Council, 6th Ward: Derry Glenn (I), Cleven Jones
While city council races are non-partisan, three out of the four races feature candidates registered with opposing parties. In the council president, 2nd Ward and 4th Ward races, all three incumbents are registered Republican voters, and their challengers are registered with the Democratic Party.
In the 6th Ward race, both candidates are not registered with either party.
As for reasons behind running, both Mathews and Wilkerson alluded to the need for new energy in council chambers and called for better efforts to represent younger voices in the community — many who have already left the region over the last decade leading to a scarcity of young people in Allen and the surrounding counties.
“I’m running because I can no longer just shake my head at dilapidation, chaos in council chambers and deteriorating relationships between elected officials,” Matthews said. “The youth need a voice in this city, and our citizens need a seat at the table.”
Mathews is a community leader and political organizer in the region, and in the past, he has twice ran for elected office. In 2007, he faced long-time councilor, Derry Glenn, and in 2008, he ran for Allen County Commissioner. Due to losses in both races, if he were to claim Nixon’s seat, it would be the first elected office he has held.
Mathews made headlines in 2017, when he pushed council to cancel its marijuana moratorium. The moratorium was lifted a year later in early 2018, causing the only dispensary certification allowed in the region to go to a company that had already found a location in Wapakoneta.
Tony Wilkerson, candidate for 2nd Ward, is an engineer technician for Dominion Energy, a military veteran and and a youth sports coach. Wilkerson also acted as one of the campaign chairs for Mayor David Berger’s 2013 election campaign.
“I would like to join in with those fellow councilmen who are pushing forward the renaissance that the city is going through. I want to continue forward and not hold up this progress,” Wilkerson said. “There’s some positive changes in Lima, and I would like to be a part of it.”
Peggy Ehora, running for 4th Ward, also works for Dominion Energy as its external affairs manager. In the community, she also holds seats on a number of boards, including the Allen Economic Development Group as its personnel chair and as a member of the Lima Rotary’s social committee.
Cleven Jones, running for 6th Ward, is a pastor at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, as well as a vocal member of the Lima Area Black Ministerial Alliance. Jones often makes public comments on the group’s behalf to council, and this past year, Jones has been a consistent advocate for the City of Lima’s purchase of a body camera system for Lima Police Department officers.
Neither Ehora nor Jones could be reached prior to press time.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.