Current and perhaps future political candidates went to campaign training camp last weekend.
Fourteen women attended the 3-day AVOW Women's Campaign Institute in Fort Wayne sponsored by Advancing Voices of Women. They received instructions on campaign law, fundraising, making speeches, recruiting a campaign team and door-to-door campaigning.
Participating were MaryClare Akers, executive director of the Drug and Alcohol Consortium of Allen County; Megan Butler, who oversees events and programs for Riverfront Fort Wayne; Michelle Chambers, owner of Signing Closers LLC; Stephanie Crandall, director of intergovernmental affairs for the city of Fort Wayne; Lindsay Hannah, director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne; and Patricia Hays, chief executive officer of AWS Foundation.
Also attending were Carol Helton, city attorney for Fort Wayne; Martha Lemert, senior labor employment counsel for the law firm Burt Blee Dixon Sutton & Bloom; Paula McGee, formerly interim CEO of the Fort Wayne Urban League; Margaret Waters Milne, work experience coordinator for SCAN; Melissa Rinehart, president of Kaleidoscope Diversity Solutions; Crystal Vann Wallstrom, managing director of innovation for Electric Works; Denita Washington, executive director of Girlz Rock; and Kathy Zoucha, special education teacher for Fort Wayne Community Schools.
Four participants are candidates in this year's election, all of them Democrats: Zoucha is running in Indiana Senate District 15, Washington for Adams Township trustee, Rinehart for Perry Township trustee and Lemert in Indiana House District 52.
Other institute participants indicated they are considering running in coming years for seats on the Fort Wayne City Council and the Allen County Council.
Speakers at the institute included former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, former U.S. Rep. Jill Long, Purdue Fort Wayne political scientist Andy Downs and Patricia Russo, executive director of the non-partisan Women's Campaign School at Yale University.