At their best, election seasons stir community debate and soul-searching. The current one has done just that. Now it's time to acknowledge the municipal candidates' commitment and willingness to serve. Cast your ballot to make a difference.
The Journal Gazette editorial board offers these recommendations, based on past reporting, interviews and reviews of the candidates' professional and political experience. Incumbent Fort Wayne City Council member Russ Jehl, R-2nd, is unopposed, as is Democrat Sharon Tucker, a member of Allen County Council seeking the open District 6 City Council seat.
Mayor of Fort Wayne
√Thomas C. Henry, Democrat
Tim Smith, Republican
That Fort Wayne is becoming a more attractive place to live and work is beyond debate. New buildings and a sensational new park are converting a traditional downtown into a Midwest jewel; our beautiful neighborhoods are beginning to get the attention they deserve; and those seeking recreation, entertainment or enrichment have more opportunities than ever. Henry is not the only visionary behind Fort Wayne's remarkable transformation, but he has led the effort for the past 12 years.
Mayor of New Haven
√Steve McMichael, Republican
Darren Peterson, Democrat
McMichael is uniquely qualified from the start, with skills and experience to build on the improvements in economic development, infrastructure and quality of life his predecessor championed for the past 20 years.
Fort Wayne city clerk
√Lana R. Keesling, Republican
Katie Zuber, Democrat
Keesling has fulfilled her largely administrative duties in a professional manner and delivered on all promises to improve operations.
Fort Wayne City Council at large
(vote for three)
√Michelle Chambers, Democrat
Chambers has well-thought-out goals for the council, identifying the upcoming comprehensive plan, homelessness and mental health initiatives as areas that need attention.
√Thomas Freistroffer, Republican
Freistroffer has proven to be a thoughtful and valuable member in his first term. As council representative to the plan commission, he's demonstrated a commitment to listening to and working with the residents most affected by planning and zoning issues.
√Glynn Hines, Democrat
While he ultimately joined the unanimous council vote to award trash and recycling collection contracts to Red River Waste Solutions, Hines was the only council member to question how the company could provide the service at the low bid submitted.
Michael Barranda, Republican
Steve Corona, Democrat
Nathan Hartman, Repubican
City Council, District 1
Paul Ensley, Republican
√Misti Meehan, Democrat
Meehan would be a council member who stands up for her district but also takes the larger view.
City Council District 3
√Thomas F. Didier, Republican
John J. Henry, Democrat
Didier's people skills make him ideal for building consensus on thorny issues. Last year, he was part of a mayor's task force that eased Fort Wayne's garbage-collection crisis by suggesting new routes for Red River's trucks.
City Council District 4
Jason Arp, Republican
√Patti Hays, Democrat
Hays would be a councilwoman who would concentrate on what's best for the Fourth District and Fort Wayne instead of what fits preconceived positions.
City Council District 5
√Geoff Paddock, Democrat
Taylor Vanover, Republican
No City Council district has seen as much activity and improvement in recent years as Fort Wayne's Fifth District, represented by Geoff Paddock. Its voters can be proud of the role their council representative has played in advocating for the district's older, established neighborhoods.