LIMA — Elizabeth Hardesty on Thursday unveiled a pro-growth platform in her campaign for Lima mayor, describing herself as a change candidate focused on growing employment, investment and home ownership within the city limits.
Hardesty, a Lima native and the only registered Republican in the four-way race, has traveled the world while working in the oil and gas industry. But she said she’s always come back to Lima.
“I’ve watched this community become stagnant,” Hardesty said during a campaign kickoff event at the Allen County Museum. “Our population strength and the energy of many disappeared, because they feel their government isn’t behind them.”
Key to Hardesty’s campaign is improving the quality of life in Lima, in part through upkeep of the city’s parks and investing in safety services. Hardesty said the city needs a new approach to funding its parks department, citing the condition of Schoonover Pool, and outlined her goal to hire a safety services director that would replace the city’s chief of staff position.
The safety services director, Hardesty said, would assist police and fire chiefs with public relations, grant procurement and recruiting new officers, while also looking for cost savings and acting as an independent facilitator for departmental policies and procedures.
Hardesty pointed to the apparent disconnect in Lima, with unemployment near 5% and 1,700 jobs within a 10-mile radius advertised by Ohio Means Jobs.
“My vision is for the director of community and economic development to focus on creating opportunities for the residents of Lima to get back to work, encourage the community to find their skills and get them resources to develop through the many great programs we have,” Hardesty said.
She talked about connecting youth to internships with local employers and helping community members earn technical skills, trade certifications or degrees so a ready workforce is available for companies considering a move to Lima.
On housing, Hardesty said that home ownership within city limits is often not profitable, and that too many properties are delipidated and uninhabitable.
Hardesty said she’d allocate resources to demolish dilapidated houses and that she would target slum lords and tax delinquent people, while still encouraging home ownership and investment.
And Hardesty said she’d seek better cooperation between governments in Allen County, lamenting the “bickering” and “government silos” that exist within the county.
“The world around us is not changing. It’s already changed,” Hardesty said. “We must elect a mayor who embraces that change and has a clear vision of where we are ready to take our community.”