LIMA — The four candidates running for Lima mayor in the May 4 primary election got a chance Tuesday night to explain why they should be trusted with the city government’s top job.
The candidates, Elizabeth Hardesty, Joshua Hayes, Sharetta Smith and Autumn Swanson, participated in a forum at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center which was sponsored by the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters.
The four candidates were asked questions covering a number of topics, including what their vision of Lima looks like in 2025.
Swanson: “What I see coming in 2025 is prosperity, economic growth, neighborhood change and revitalization,” Swanson said. “We have to start with community organizing,”
Hardesty: “My vision for the future is simply just not putting somebody new in an old seat. It’s looking at our government and our administration and giving it a nice overhaul to bring in real change,” Hardesty said.
Hayes: “I think that we’re all going to talk about the same things — you know, creating prosperity in our community, economic growth, vitality. These are things that are kind of buzzwords that people have used in politics for a long time, but I think the one thing that we really want to talk about is how we’re going to get there,” Hayes said. “I think the thing that really changes us and really separates us as candidates is how are we going to get there.”
Smith: “I don’t think they can compile a vision for a city without first talking with the voters. So for the past few weeks, that’s what we’ve been doing,” Smith said. “We’ve been out knocking on doors and making phone calls and listening to you about what you want to see for the future of Lima, and what we’re hearing is that you want smarter students, you want a stronger economy, you want thriving neighborhoods, and you also want growing businesses.”
Questions also dealt with the possibility of Lima losing its metropolitan statistical area status and continuing a number of positive growth projects in the city that they’ll inherit, such as the Rhodes State College downtown campus. Also discussed was Lima’s blighted housing problem and what to do about it. They also talked about what they would do about a spike in violent crimes. The candidates were also asked about what they thought was the biggest infrastructure problem in Lima.
The candidates were also given three minutes to summarize why they should be elected mayor.
Swanson: “I know that a mayor is responsible for so much more than running the administration,” she said. “For each and every resident, it’s the quality of life that they’re living, the availability and support of the government they receive and the creativity in which the administration is able to deliver services to best meet the needs of all residents.”
Hardesty: “I have a business background. I have no experience in government, and I will bring a fresh set of eyes to Lima to look at things in a different way. The world around us is changing, and Lima is ready for real change,” Hardesty said.
Hayes: “As an outsider coming into this place and not being a politician, being a patient-focused doctor/physician, I think that’s the mindset that I bring to this city,” Hayes said. “I think that we’re going to see some change in administration, and I think it’s going to be a really good thing for Lima, and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Smith: “As mayor, you will see that I will be focused on what I heard you say you need, and again that is smarter students, safer streets, stronger neighborhoods and a thriving economy,” Smith said. “This is the most important election of our lifetime, and we have the opportunity to elect a leader from a new generation of leaders. We have the opportunity to also make sure that Lima continues to change for the better.”
David Berger, the long-time incumbent, is not seeking re-election after serving the city for 32 years by the time his term is over. The top two vote-getters in the primary will face off in the general election in November.
Asking the questions were representatives of the local media, including Stuart Hall from Your Hometown Lima Stations, Todd Walker from iHeartMedia, David Trinko from The Lima News, and area businesspeople Beverly Beery from Beery Insurance and Derek Richardson from Crown Equipment.
Robert Alexander, a political science professor at Ohio Northern University, was the moderator for the event.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.