LIMA — The candidates ran their campaigns, rallied their supporters and got out the vote. On Tuesday, the city of Lima went to the polls and decided that Sharetta Smith will become the next mayor of Lima.
Smith defeated opponent Elizabeth Hardesty by a vote of 3,180 to 2,678 and will follow current Mayor David Berger. She becomes Lima’s first female mayor, first Black mayor and the first new mayor since 1989.
For the city, Smith’s win is one of the most historic elections in recent history.
“It’s really surreal,” Smith said. “But we did the work: We got out, we knocked on doors, we made phone calls, and we listened to what Lima citizens said they wanted to see.”
Smith was given a worthy battle from Hardesty, but after a hard-fought campaign season, the voters decided to elect Berger’s chief of staff over the political outsider Hardesty, who ran on the platform of bringing change to Lima.
Hardesty said that she called Smith to congratulate her on the victory, but that she was disappointed in the low voter turnout.
“The Lima community has some of the best people around,” Hardesty said. “We do have great people, and hopefully the Lima community can grow, which it hasn’t recently, and they can bring some new business, good-paying jobs, which we haven’t had happen. The downside is I think I learned that Lima doesn’t want change.”
Throughout the campaign, Smith spoke about wanting to turn the city around by addressing the major issues that have impacted it. While working for the city, Smith was very involved in helping solve Lima’s housing problem as an active member of the Housing Task Force, a trend that will likely continue as she moves into the city’s highest office.
Other major issues that have been of concern for the city have been supporting businesses and lowering the crime rate. During her time working under Mayor Berger, downtown Lima has seen new developments come underway and efforts to improve relationships with law enforcement and the community have been made.
Smith was an instrumental player in creating the initiative that allows mental health professionals to assist on emergency calls and has previously spoken about the need for community policing. Smith spoke about the need to keep those initiatives going.
“Day one of Mayor Smith in office, Lima can expect to see forward progression of all of the projects that we have going on now,” Smith said. “But Lima can also expect to see some real movement in some of the issues that we’ve been talking about.”
Smith also said that even after working for the previous administration, changes will be coming.
“I’m looking forward to really looking at how we run the day-to-day operations of city government and changing things up a little bit,” she said. “So the very first thing is the transition team, which I’ll be announcing in a couple of weeks, and Lima will see that we’re ready to lead on day one.”