LIMA — Lima Chief of Staff Sharetta Smith announced her 2021 bid for Lima’s mayor during a campaign kick-off event held Wednesday at Faurot Park.
“What a great place to announce a candidacy for mayor,” Smith said after explaining the park’s roots as City Park. “And what a great way to let it be known from the gate — before we even stand up in the blocks to run this race — that in order for us to win, we have to be an all-inclusive team. And in order for this city to thrive and survive in the 21st century, it is going to be because of a ‘we’ and not a ‘me’ mentality.”
As for her policy goals if elected, she said her campaign will focus on spurring job creation and business growth, streamlining the city’s services and reducing crime from both reactive and preventative perspectives.
In that vein, she said a major focus for her administration if elected will be tackling Lima’s consistent housing issues.
“We have a depreciating housing stock,” Smith said. “Many of our housing was built before the 1940s. In addition to that, a lot of the residents that live in Lima do not make enough money to buy a house, let alone maintain upkeep. And so what I’d like to do is be able to provide some real solutions about how we provide an entire spectrum of housing for all of our citizens and every income level.”
Smith said she’s accomplished the start of that work already. As chief of staff for the city, she played a strong role in helping create the city’s newly-formed housing task force. During Monday’s meeting of Lima City Council, the group approved Smith’s initiative to create a comprehensive land-use plan.
Originally from Lima, Smith spent the large part of her career in Chattanooga, Tenn., serving as an assistant public defender then magistrate there. Prior to that work, she also held a position in the private sector managing contracts for an electrical and mechanical distributor serving international companies. She moved back to her hometown roughly four years ago, and Mayor David Berger hired her for the city’s chief of staff position.
In that role, Smith has pushed forward a number of city initiatives, such as upgrading the city’s technology infrastructure and working to establish opportunity zones in some of the city’s blighted neighborhoods.
Outside of her direct work with the city, Smith has also advocated for a more equal Lima in the public sphere, especially when it comes to racial and gender inequalities. Last year, she and a number of other leaders in the community formed the Women’s Leadership Collective to help highlight problems adversely affecting women. Most recently, she played a large role in the city’s efforts to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
Smith is the second person to announce a run for the mayor’s seat. During the primary, she will challenge Joshua Hayes, a business owner and chiropractor in Shawnee Township.
As for the current mayor, David Berger, he had announced his retirement earlier this year. As Ohio’s longest-serving city mayor, he plans to retire after 32 years in the position.
“As the Chief of Staff for the City of Lima, I’ve been able to get a bird’s eye view of not just the challenges that face us as a city but also the opportunities,” Smith said. “And I really do feel like that Lima is at a crossroads and that right now, we need a leader who not only has the experience to lead but also who is new enough to have fresh eyes that can bring some new ideas to help us solve some of our issues.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.