LIMA — Sharetta Smith and Elizabeth Hardesty were the top two vote-getters in the Lima mayor’s race and will square off in the November general election, assuring Lima its first-ever female mayor.
Long-time Lima Mayor David Berger decided not to run again after 32 years on the job.
Smith had 2,103 votes (52.43% of the vote), while Hardesty garnered 1,384 votes (34.51%).
Joshua Hayes finished in third with 356 votes (8.88%), while Autumn Swanson finished fourth with 168 votes (4.19%).
Smith was pleased with the support she received.
“I want to thank everyone, all the voters for supporting me,” Smith said. “I’m running for mayor because I really do love Lima, and I’m happy that I was able to get out over these past couple of months and connect more with voters to talk to them about how we build a better future.”
Hardesty is looking forward to November.
“We knew it would be an uphill battle, and we’re ready, so we’ll regroup now that we’ve made it through primary,” Hardesty said. “We’ve had tons of volunteers come out as we’ve held events the last three months. So we’ve got a nice crew to work with, and I’ve got a fantastic campaign team.”
With two females elected in the nonpartisan primary to face each other in November, Lima is likely to have its first woman mayor, although Hardesty’s candidacy is being challenged in court. If Hardesty is ultimately ruled out as a candidate, it’s unclear who Smith would face in the November election.
Voters coming out of the polls Tuesday had strong opinions of who they wanted to win.
“I voted for Sharetta Smith for mayor because I want to have a continuation of what we’ve had with Mayor (David) Berger, and I think she’s the most qualified one to do that,” Randy Tomlinson said.
Betty Bushong agreed, citing her “education and experience” as factors for Smith getting her vote.
Likewise, Joseph Rigali liked Smith’s experience, saying “she’s been working in that area for years.”
Smith is David Berger’s chief of staff.
Some people who voted for Hardesty wanted a change in city government.
“Thirty-two years of one regime is enough,” Kevin Tidd said. “Lima is in no better shape than it was 32 years ago. It’s in worse shape.”
Tidd’s wife, Cindy, agreed.
“We need to quit bringing in so many people who just want a free ride,” she said. “Mr. Berger was very proud of the programs that he had that really brought in people that were on government assistance, and we need a lot more people to work to fill all of these jobs that are all over town.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.