Bio of Mayor David J. Berger

Mayor David J. Berger

On December 1, 2018, Mayor David J. Berger took the Oath of Office for an 8th term making him the City of Lima’s longest serving mayor.  During his time in office, Dave has demonstrated that he is an effective consensus builder who works diligently to bring about positive change for all Lima residents.

A Servant Leader from the StartMayor David Berger

The son of an IBEW union worker, Dave was born and raised in a Catholic household in Mansfield, Ohio where he learned the values of service to others, honesty, and hard work.  At a very early age, Dave developed a sense of religious vocation, and left home after completion of 8th grade to attend a seminary high school. After high school, Dave begin college seminary at St. Meinrad in Southern Indiana.  At St. Meinrad, Dave was deeply involved in leadership roles with social service organizations in Southern Indiana, including a large student run organization entitled Catholic Action for Community Development (CACD).  Through CACD, Dave helped with efforts to chop and deliver firewood to poor households for fuel, organize the largest Special Olympics competition in the state, and operate neighborhood centers in small villages along the Ohio River.  After two years at St. Meinrad, Dave was awarded a scholarship to complete his studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. 

The First in His Family to Graduate From College

Dave’s commitment of service to others continued at Catholic University.  On Saturdays, he helped prepare meals at a soup kitchen run by the Center for Creative Non-Violence. On Sundays, he took communion to patients at the Presbyterian Home for the Dying. By mid-1977 Dave finished Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Philosophy, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.

Building Neighborhoods and Putting People to Work

Following graduation, Dave moved to Lima to become the Executive Director of Rehab Project, a newly formed nonprofit community development agency that received national recognition for training male and female prisoners how to build and renovate houses.  Under Dave’s leadership, Rehab Project renovated hundreds of homes and helped revitalized neighborhoods throughout the city.  Dave worked in that capacity until August of 1989, when he resigned to campaign.  He was sworn in for his first term as Lima’s Mayor on December 5, 1989.

A Solid Record of Achievement Since 1989

Dave represents the City of Lima on the United States Conference of Mayors’ Energy Committee and co-chairs the Mayors Water Council, and is a member of the Ohio Mayors Alliance. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Energy Advanced Manufacturing Center, the Allen Economic Development Group, Downtown Lima, Inc., and West Ohio Community Action Partnership.  Together these entities are the leading organizations for research and development, economic development, downtown development, and social services programming for the Lima metropolitan community.   Consistent with his collaborative leadership style, Dave has created and led several community task forces bringing together coalitions of community stakeholders to protect and sustain some of Lima’s most valuable industrial assets – the British Petroleum (Husky) refinery, the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC), and the Lima Ford Engine Plant. 

Some of Dave’s accomplishments include:

City Finances and Operations

  • Managing a citywide operating budget of more than$70 million with roughly 400 employees, relying on strict fiscal controls to reduce costs while maintaining services
  • During the Great Recession, cutting general fund budget by $2 million dollars, a historically high reduction in expenditures on a year- to- year basis
  • Reducing operating costs though significant energy conservation projects involving the replacement of florescent lighting fixtures with LED technology
  • Investing in technology and data systems to  streamline procedures, cut “red tape” and improve efficiency within city departments

Quality of Life

  • Launching a Department of Community Development with a focus on neighborhood and housing revitalization
  • Actively partnering with Lima City Schools for the replacement of school facilities, a $110 million investment.  These efforts included the relocation of Lima Senior High School to a primary entrance corridor for the community.
  • Bringing together private and public partners to develop the city’s newest park - Lima Stadium Park – a transformative park on the Bellefontaine / Market Street Corridor
  • Initiating the Ottawa River Corridor Study and partnering with Lima Rotary Club, Johnny Appleseed Metro Park District, Husky Refinery (formerly British Petroleum) and others to complete the Rotary Riverwalk and Ottawa River Bikeway.
  • Partnering with housing developers for the construction of new single family homes
  • Improving the health of Lima’s citizens through the Community Health Improvement Plan, in partnership with Allen County Public Health, the two major local hospital systems, and other community partners

Safety Services

  • Implementing Community Oriented Policing (COP) and establishing (5) COP substations
  • Building effective collaborations among 13 local law enforcement agencies for successful targeting of law enforcement services
  • Using crime data analysis to target crime hot spots and drive down violent crime rates in nearly all major categories since 2008
  • Constructing $2 Million renovation and expansion of the William K. Davenport Hall of Justice
  • Deployment of high tech body worn and in car camera systems
  • Restructuring of Fire Department’s operations and investing in state of the art equipment and infrastructure, resulting in an improved ISO rating

Economic Development

  • Securing of federal and state resources for the development of two industrial parks: Liberty Commerce Industrial Park and Gateway Commerce Industrial Park, for the attraction of living wage jobs for Lima residents
  • Collaborating with American Trim and Rhodes State College to qualify Lima for several Ohio Third Frontier  and EDA grant awards,  leveraging an additional $15 million in research and development investments for commercialization of laboratory technology for job creation and manufacturing investment
  • Serving on Ohio Governor Bob Taft’s Urban Revitalization Task Force, with 16 other Ohio Mayors whose recommendations laid the foundation for the state’s Clean Ohio Programs
  • Preventing the closure and destruction of the Lima refinery by British Petroleum (Now Husky Energy).  In July 1998, the Berger Administration’s efforts led to the sale of the refinery from BP to Clark Oil and saved hundreds of local jobs and a very large industrial base.  The Lima Refinery sale was showcased in the nationally broadcast PBS documentary Lost In Middle America: And What Happened Next.  The sale was also prominently featured in Spiral Up, and Other Management Secrets Behind Highly Successful Initiatives by Jane C. Linder and in Rust Belt Resistance:  How a Small Town Took on Big Oil and Won by Bluffton University’s Professor Perry Bush. 
  • Advancing the revitalization of Lima’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, through collaboration with various partners resulting in more than $230 million in  investments, including a new $14 million YMCA, $14 million renovation of the National Bank Building, $13 million development of Dominion Energy headquarters, $20 construction of Rhodes State downtown campus, combined with the $175 million expansion projects on the campuses of the area’s two major local hospital systems
  • Receiving a $3.2 million Job Ready Site Grant from the Ohio Department of Development, for the construction of the Ohio Energy Advanced Manufacturing Center – a 14 acre research and development center on the city’s south side.