No one is quite sure what Lima voters have been trying to say with the sweeping changes they have now enacted to Lima City Council during the last two elections.
Five of the eight City Council positions have seen change during that period, and two of the other three races raised eyebrows.
Here’s what we’ve witnessed:
In 2017, change occurred in three of four council races, with Carla Thompson (3rd Ward), Jamie Dixon (5th Ward) and Jon Neeper (7th Ward) each winning.
The other four council positions came open this year with Tony Wilkerson (2nd Ward) and Peggy Ehora (4th Ward) ousting incumbents.
Only Todd Gordon in the 1st Ward, Derry Glenn in the 6th Ward and John Nixon as council president retained their positions.
Even with that, Glenn was involved in his closest race since first being elected to Council in 1999, beating Cleven Jones by 61 votes, or 58% of the vote. It was the first time anyone had opposed Glenn since 2007, when he carried 70 percent of the vote to beat Josiah Matthews.
Nixon was unopposed after Mathews dropped out of his latest bid for council. Still, Nixon only won 64% of the votes, 1,965-1,095, over the ghost candidate. Were Lima voters trying to tell us something, or were they just uninformed?
That leaves Todd Gordon, the quiet councilman from the 1st Ward, as the only person without an asterisk after his name, unless you want to hand him one for seldom speaking out.
What direction Lima council goes will be interesting to watch. In particular:
• What course of action will council take when the city administration’s housing study is presented in early 2020? A consulting firm has been commissioned to assess Lima’s current housing stock as well as provide strategies the city can undertake to improve overall housing quality and tackle the blight seen in many neighborhoods across Lima. Thompson has been the most vocal about the issue. She wants some type of landlord licensing system enacted to better help the city deal with absentee slumlords who rent property without the basics: hot water, heat and plumbing. Then there’s Glenn, who owns a house the city calls dilapidated and in need of being razed. How can Glenn seriously be part of the discussion given his own circumstances?
• What will be the tone of the new council? Neeper won election two years ago by pointing out his opponent never voted against the city administration’s wishes. Part of Ehora’s winning campaign this year saw her pushing for more of a cooperative tenor of local politics, with the status-quo being detrimental to our community.
• Will the size of the city’s growing government need to be trimmed should the nation be headed for a recession, as many economist believe? If so, how will that be handled?
We’re sure other issues will arise, but these are four to watch.