LIMA — Political campaigns are an exercise in effective decision making, from policy platforms to an effective slogan. Candidates have to be both politically engaging and fiscally responsible as they strive to emerge as the victor on Election Day.
With the deadline now passed for candidates to file to appear on the November ballot for nonprimary races, the campaigns for the November general election are set to intensify as each candidate vies to make their best case to the electorate.
“We really focus on trying to connect with individual voters,” Lima Mayor David Berger said. “We realize that it is a special opportunity to make that connection. Obviously, there’s general media that covers the community, but I think the best thing we do is organize volunteers to go door-to-door to connect with voters, talk with them, and distribute information. We spend a lot of time doing that, and it’s probably the most fun part of a campaign.”
Berger and challenger Keith Cheney both survived a primary race also featuring 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn. Each of the mayoral campaigns came with hours of meetings, planning and outreach efforts, along with thousands of dollars in expenditures. Both the surviving mayoral candidates are primed to have the resources for a spirited race to the finish, with Berger’s campaign having more than $47,000 on hand as of June and Cheney’s campaign having a balance of almost $51,000, according to their respective campaign finance reports.
Spreading the wealth
Expenses for a campaign can be wide-ranging, as evidenced in both mayoral candidates’ finance reports. Along with the expected expenses of yard signs and flyers, expenditures can go toward apparel, food and water for campaign rallies, renting space for a campaign headquarters or rally location, postage and campaign dinner meetings. That takes candidates, along with their budgets, to a variety of area businesses.
For example, two Lima businesses able to help with signage and materials are Longmeier Printing and Advertising and Quick As A Wink Printing Co., both of whom have rendered services for several campaigns through the years, both local and beyond.
“Our company has been involved in elections since 1904,” according to Michael Frueh, second-generation owner of Longmeier Printing. “We’re one of the older companies around.”
For Dave Beck, president of Quick As A Wink, servicing a campaign can include anything from handouts and mailers to signs and banners to refrigerator magnets. For him, it is a way of helping create a more informed, engaged electorate.
“You do not know who to vote for if you are not informed on what the philosophies and opinions of the people running are,” he said. “It’s one thing to vote, but in order to vote in an educated manner, you have to know something about the parties involved.”
Frueh echoed that sentiment, noting that while working for a campaign is not where his company gets the majority of its profits, it is still a source of civic pride and engagement.
“That’s why we work extra hard to get stuff out on schedule,” he said. “Most political issues have a quick turnaround, so if there’s a new idea or topic that comes up in a campaign, a letter goes out right away or changes get made right away.”
Both companies have also helped with design work for campaigns, working with everything from renderings saved on a flash drive to a rough sketch on a bar napkin.
“We’ve had some of those napkins come in,” Beck said.
Counting the cost of a campaign
Staying within a budget is important to having a healthy campaign, especially when flexibility is needed to keep the message to voters current, according to Cheney.
“We establish an initial budget, and that budget is virtually inclusive of signs, media, literature, events and social media,” Cheney said. “The key is that the budget must always be adaptable to the needs established by the campaign. In other words, it’s an always-moving number determined by what needs there are throughout a campaign. I always have my finger on the pulse to determine what we may want to do differently, or what avenues we may want to take when determining the expenditures.”
Now in his eighth mayoral campaign, Berger described the organizational process for campaigning as a “time-consuming effort,” crediting the volunteers in his campaign with making those efforts in previous campaigns successful.
“I’ve got full-time responsibilities with the city, so it does involve a lot of evenings and weekends, being involved with trying to meet on schedules where our volunteers are available to get things done,” he said. “I don’t think it gets easier. It’s a very intensive effort that we’ve never taken it for granted. It’s something where, I think, if you miss the details and think something gets done, it doesn’t.”
Cheney also acknowledged the intensity of the campaign and the long hours involved, saying he has always believed that “sleep is overrated.” As many hours as he puts into the campaign, he said, he could not accomplish his goal without volunteers.
“I am very fortunate to have a great group of volunteers,” he said. “I also have a senior advisory committee where we discuss different issues of the campaign, and their input is most valuable. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting with some of Lima’s residents, who have also come up with some very good ideas that have been implemented into our campaign. I don’t operate in business or a campaign with a closed mind. Listening, a lot of times, is better than talking.”
Courtesy Allen County Board of Elections | Berger Campaign Pre-Primary Financial Report
Courtesy Allen County Board of Elections | Berger Campaign Post-Primary Financial Report
Courtesy Allen County Board of Elections | Cheney Campaign Pre-Primary Financial Report
Courtesy Allen County Board of Elections | Cheney Campaign Post-Primary Financial Report
Courtesy Allen County Board of Elections | Glenn Campaign Post-Primary Financial Report
Expenses for a campaign can be wide-ranging, as evidenced in a candidates’ finance reports. Along with the expected expenses of yard signs and flyers, expenditures can go toward apparel, food and water for campaign rallies, renting space for a campaign headquarters or rally location, postage and campaign dinner meetings.