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City of Lima Mayor - Term Commences 12/01/17

The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the City and shall be elected for a term of four years. He shall not hold any other public office or employment, except that of notary public or member of the State militia. Term: 4 years Salary: $135,000
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    David Berger Mayor of Lima

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    Keith A. Cheney Chief Operating Officer

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Biographical Information

1. What is your five-year vision for economic development in the city?

2. While we expect Rhodes College expansion to help revitalize downtown Lima, what plans do you have to continue this revitalization with other entities?

3. Crime prevention and the safety of residents is a primary concern for residents, what can city government AND the private sectors do to make Lima a safer place to live?

4. If the governor balances the state budget at the expense of municipalities, as has occurred in the past, how will you make up the shortfall?

5. Please discuss minority hiring policies, citing whether you believe the current efforts are adequate or inadequate and cite specific examples.

Current Occupation Mayor, City of Lima, Ohio
Education B.A. & M.A., Philosophy, Catholic University of America
Training & Experience Certified in Community Economic Development through the Development Training Institute of Baltimore, Maryland
(419) 235-0010
Over the next 5 years, we will continue to improve and sustain employment in Lima, foster opportunities for increased prosperity for Lima’s citizens, and position Lima as a leading community of choice to live, work, and play.

We improve and sustain employment in Lima by both retaining the businesses that we have and attracting the new businesses that we want. To attract new businesses, the City will remain a close working partner with our lead economic development agency, the Allen Economic Development Group. Together we market our community, facilitate incentives for projects, plan and build required infrastructure and industrial parks, and reshape and hone our workforce development strategies.

To retain existing businesses, I will continue to lead efforts to keep businesses in our community. As the Chair of Task Force LIMA, I have worked with stakeholders for the JSMC to keep it a vital industrial and defense asset. Through that work we were able to bring funding from the Department of Defense to develop a strategic plan for our community, which is now being implemented, and has contributed to hundreds of new jobs and tens of millions of dollars being invested in that facility.

We have to recognize that our region has a surplus of thousands of jobs that will continue over the next decade as the economy grows and the Baby Boomer Generation retires in increasing numbers. This means opportunities for increasing prosperity for Lima’s citizens. I will continue to make it broadly known that good paying jobs are here and now available. We will increase training resources for incumbent workers and for those who need to improve their skills and educational attainments and continue our work to remove barriers to employment for the unemployed or underemployed, such as transportation and day care. Lastly, the unique opportunities we have invented such as Makerfest, Hometown Advantage, and Link Lima showcase Lima’s business and industry and create an exciting awareness among students and the general public about careers and job opportunities now available in our local economy.

These strategies are working: a report from a local industry indicates that of the 30 recent hires that they made half of the new employees were folks who had returned to Lima from elsewhere in the country. They had heard about the good paying jobs opportunities and wanted to return home! That is the sort of economic development that grows our community in so many positive ways.
The Rhodes State College project is a $20 million development that will permanently root the school and its resources in the center of our community. It will bring 800-1000 people to the facility on a daily basis, people who will have a variety of wants and needs before and after their classes. Retail and professional service business opportunities will thus be stimulated by the presence of these students and staff at Rhodes. And as a result we will see the further development of restaurants, niche retail shopping, and services like dry cleaning to respond to these needs.

Similarly, the renovation of the 1st National Bank Building for housing and for offices will also bring more people into the downtown, fostering a density that will add further demand for more retail and services. This $17 million project will restore a classic historic structure and will encourage other housing developers to consider doing the same with other multi-story buildings in the Central Business District. We are already seeing this kind of positive affect with the recent announcement that the owner of the Metro Center Building (formerly the headquarters for the Metropolitan Bank of Lima) intends to renovate the building for housing and retail.

The positive momentum that is building in our downtown began several years ago as entrepreneurs and developers began to establish new restaurants. The first of those was The Meeting Place, followed by The Met, Old City Prime, Fat Cat Diner, Vivace and The Hollander. All of these establishments together in the core of the downtown have created a terrific buzz and positive energy for others to also consider investing in the downtown.

In order to continue this reinvestment climate, we are moving ahead in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, AEDG, and Downtown Lima to create an energy district. This will permit special financing opportunities for renovation of energy systems and energy conservation technologies for commercial buildings in the downtown and throughout the city. Beyond this, we are evaluating other development financing tools such as tax increment financing, the establishment of a Downtown Redevelopment District, and the possible creation of a Community Entertainment District under newly enacted state laws.
The partnership opportunities which can be forged between law enforcement and the community via Community Oriented Policing represent a full spectrum of ways in which the safety of our residents can be enhanced.

Community police officers are now deployed in 5 hot spot areas. There our officers actively reach out to residents and to businesses to create relationships, to identify issues and then to work on solutions. These issues can be drug houses, opioid overdoses, uncontrolled pit bulls, traffic, shots fired, domestic violence, etc. The officers then seek out agencies or partners who can help to solve the problems identified. A highly effective partnership now working in this way is the active engagement of a Community Navigator/Social Worker from Coleman Professional Services who teams with COP officers to follow up on all persons who experience an opioid overdose to direct them into treatment.

The strengthening of our neighborhood associations is essential to increasing the safety and well being of our neighborhoods. The private sector, both businesses located within given neighborhoods and those prominent in our community as a whole, can be important resources for these associations. The neighborhood associations need human talent for their projects and for the staffing of their organizations. They need people who can fill officer roles like President, Treasurer, and committee chairs. They need experienced professionals to assist with strategic planning and project implementation. Much like well established service clubs like Optimists and Rotary, neighborhood associations need committed and engaged people who will work to improve the specific neighborhoods where they are rooted.

Third, the need for the private sector to be involved with our schools and our school children should not be underestimated for the benefit such involvement could have both on students and the community. While there are a number of volunteers engaged as mentors with students, there is a need for literally hundreds of adults who can become significant in the lives of children. Beyond mentoring, there is a crying need for after school programming, with transportation for children to be able to access that programming. A combined strategic partnership in the private sector to resource these needs would create positive and productive alternatives for many children who are unsupervised and left to their own devices.
The combined actions of the Ohio legislature and governor over the past decade have substantially and negatively impacted the budgets of all local governments, and as a result reduced our ability to take care of many pressing local needs. By eliminating tangible personal property taxes and estate taxes, and by dramatically reducing local government funds, the state has taken away $3 million per year from the City of Lima. Allen County, the townships, villages, the park districts and the libraries have also seen substantial reductions in their revenues.

All the while that the state has been doing this they have balanced the state budget, grown state programs, and established a multi-billion dollar “rainy day fund”. It is not an exaggeration to say that the state accomplished these objectives by deliberately taking resources away from local governments.

Should this be a continuing practice, I will continue to be public in my denunciations of this as an erosion of our ability to take care of local needs. I will continue to partner with other local government leaders in making the case for the state to re-establish the funds that they have removed.

As for managing the city’s budget, we will do as we have done: we will assess and prioritize our local needs, submit a balanced budget by reducing costs, and work with City Council to adopt a balanced budget as required by law.
The City of Lima is committed to hiring practices that seek the highest quality personnel and that achieves a demographic make-up that is reflective of the diversity of our community. Though we have seen a slight improvement in recent years, moving from 7% minority participation in the workforce to 10%, this is far short of the goal of 28%.

The major impediment to making additional progress is the way in which the civil service rules discourage qualified applicants from taking the tests.

Specifically, under current rules known as the RULE OF 10, the City administration can only consider a limited number of those who successfully take and pass the civil service entrance exams. For example, if we have two openings in the police department and we ask for a police test and if there are 100 persons who pass the test, by the RULE OF 10, the administration can only interview and consider the top 20 of those who passed the test. This means that 80 individuals passed whom we cannot interview or consider.

Because these sorts of rules have been in place for many years, we have a climate where many folks believe that it is not useful for them to consider taking the tests.

For several years now, I have instead asked that the Civil Service Board and Lima City Council change the rules so that the Administration can interview and consider every person who successfully passes the Civil Service tests. Only by being able to consider everyone who passes can we assure ourselves and the public that we are getting the best applicants and reduce the negative climate that discourages citizens from taking the tests.
Current Occupation Executive Chairman Allen County Republican Party
Education Elida High School
Training & Experience Operated a Multi-million dollar Business O.P.M.C.A. Board of Directors Private and Public Sector Experience Completed courses on Business Law and Environmental Regulations Experienced in Human Resources Created Private Sector Jobs
(419) 996-8747
My economic plan for the near future of Lima is to make Lima a viable and inviting place to conduct business; a pro-business friendly community. Currently this is not the case under the Berger administration. While individuals have persevered to proceed with personal economic development in downtown Lima, it has not been with ease. And that is what will change under my direct administrative oversight. My personal business and marketing experiences of establishing and growing businesses within the private sector uniquely provides an understanding of the development processes entrepreneurs endure in establishing a business within a community. Currently, economic growth within the Lima City limits is drastically hindered through the current administration's rules, regulatory issues, development processes and procedures, and overall policies regarding the establishment and/or growth of any business within the city. A Cheney administration will review and establish best practices to encourage growth and promote an easily navigated and assisted process for expediting economic development. We will operate with a pro-business friendly attitude in the City of Lima where the current timeline of “Business at the Speed of Government” will become "Government at the Speed of Business", resulting in actual "local" development of employment and economic opportunities for our citizens. The lack of economic gravitas is a prime causation condition to lesser desired actions of some of our citizens, which must change. Local opportunities will provide a pathway for personal and entrepreneurial success within in our city limits.

I have already met with a number of entrepreneurs who already understand the changes that will be made to make Lima business friendly and who, when I am elected Mayor, are willing to invest in our City’s economic development. My plan which will result in immediate economic development and cannot be capsulated to just a 5-year plan. Economic development will commence within my first year in office and continue to build and expand throughout my tenure in office. Lima will become known not only locally, regionally, in the State but throughout the Nation as a business-friendly City where investors will want to do business. A Better Lima For All!
The Rhodes State College expansion could certainly be a catalyst for spurring further downtown revitalization in Lima. Citizens should first realize that no government creates jobs. A government entity is responsible for the establishment and development of a climate which is conducive to the encouragement of the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals locally and inviting to those investors outside of the Lima area to come to our area and promote revitalization in various ways to the benefit of our local citizens and visitors alike. With regards to the Rhodes State College expansion project; I am proud to be the only candidate seeking the Mayor's office seat to have successfully lobbied and worked with both the State Board of Regents and the Ohio State Legislature for securing an investment of $10,000,000.00 in funding for this project. I am already in constant communications with private investors and economic development entities for plans to not only revitalize, but rather enhance the downtown Lima area further than what we already witness or is planned. In order to create total Downtown revitalization, we must first address and eliminate the downtown crime that continues to take place. Last year numerous downtown shootings occurred and so far this year there have been numerous shootings and a murder. This can and will cease through a plan I have that will be implemented bringing Downtown business owners and the Lima Police Department together to create a safe environment for patrons to Downtown. For a number of months, I have been diligently working with a group of investors willing to invest in Downtown Lima upon my being elected Mayor. The plan I am working on will include a uniquely laid out Entertainment District, Restaurants, loft apartment housing, and increased shopping opportunities through niche stores. I will create a bustling Downtown atmosphere that will be very desirable not only for our residents but for visitors to come and enjoy! A Downtown Lima that will once again benefit our City and become a viable option where investors will want to conduct business. A Better Lima For All!
The Lima City government and private sectors have a responsibility for enhancing the quality of life in the Lima area. A good quality of life means having the means of making a good living whereby a family can be supported and having an environment conducive to living, working, and ensuring the safety of all citizens. Regardless of the attempts under the current administration to dismiss the findings, the rising criminal statistics in Lima is reality not merely a just a perception. In 2016, Lima set a 10-year record for Murders and Serious Crime increased by 10% (Source: LPD Uniform Crime Report to the FBI). These crimes include: Murder, Rape, Robbery, Assault, Burglary, Larceny, Motor Vehicle Theft and Arson. The lack of concern from the current administration has afforded the environment for allowing them to be perpetuated in every corner of our great city. The Lima City Charter specifically details the Mayor is the Chief Conservator of the Peace within the City; including the supervision of all of the administration. As your Mayor, I will take seriously these responsibilities, and on day one, will immediately begin working alongside the great men and women of the Lima Police Department on a daily basis for cooperatively addressing these crimes through enforcement and prevention. Citizens Safety will be a top priority in my administration. Currently, the LPD is 24 Sworn Officers short staffed. These valiant officers our serve our city deserve and will have the full support of this mayoral candidate, which includes making sure they have the proper and necessary equipment for ensuring success in keeping our citizens safe. This is not creating an environment of a "Police State" or encumbering a citizen’s free rights; rather it is for ensuring a safe community at the expense of the criminal elements plaguing our very neighborhoods and streets. A Crime Watch program will be implemented throughout each neighborhood, supported by my Administration and Lima Police Department personnel to deter crime. A unique Community Oriented Policing model will be introduced to assist our C.O.P. Officers in achieving their goals to reduce crime. A Safe Lima Will Be A Top Cheney Administration Priority!
Regardless of the activities or in-activities of the state government with regards to Lima's finances, my goal is to secure the fiscal viability of the city. Certainly, my administration will seek to achieve bringing as many of our hard earned tax dollars back to the Lima community. However, a city simply built on government dependency is a city destined to fall. Whether or not the state cuts our funding, I will implement L.C.S.I. (Lima Common Sense Initiatives) to be conducting a complete and whole review of every City Departmental operations, procedures and policies for determining best practices, resulting in cost and time saving measures as well as productivity enhancement. Throughout my business career, I found that some of the best cost and time saving measures came, not from management, but from employees who complete the day to day tasks of their job duties. Therefore, all employees from every department will be empowered and sought to participate and share their ideas for the aforementioned activities and others relevant to them. This is another example of A Better Lima For All! My successful economic development activities will result in the creation of good paying jobs, unlike the false assurance of Global Energy, and will create economic opportunities inside the City limits that will increase revenues paid to the City. My opponent has TWICE supported and lobbied for an Income Tax increase on our citizens. I will NEVER support an Income Tax Increase. Lima can and will survive through economic growth and cost savings measurers. Creating A Better Lima For All!
A community employment percentage representative of it's demographics is essential for everyone to feel and be a part of their community. With respect to the current hiring practices of minority candidates for employment, I will enhance those opportunities through a more in-depth and participating process for those seeking employment. As your Mayor, I will, as will my Administration, work directly with the minority communities for expressing job opportunities and to encourage those seeking the very positions available. For example, the Mayor recently hired 5 five new police officers and all of them are Caucasian once again increasing the disparity percentage of minority officers. I will personally make it a priority to hire minority police officers and will do so through personal contact and promotion of opportunities available. A direct outreach program through my Administration will result in more minority police officers. As Mayor, I will personally promote the job opportunities offered in the City within various administrative departments, including the Lima Fire and Police Departments. I truly mean what I say, I want to make Lima a Better City for All! This means everyone participating and benefiting from what our City has to offer. I have already successfully opened up communications and opportunities within the minority communities which until now have gone stagnant under this current administration with certain minority affiliations. As your Mayor, I will continue to do so and look forward to working with Everyone for a successful and viable City of Lima we know it can be. A Better Lima For All!

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