Mayor Tom Henry has tapped a man with deep local roots and plenty of public- and private-sector experience to serve as the city's next deputy mayor.
Karl Bandemer, who served as the city's director of economic development from 1981 to 1986 under Mayor Win Moses Jr., has served as vice president of downtown development for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, now known as Greater Fort Wayne Inc., since 2010. In his role with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and the Downtown Development Trust, Bandemer was instrumental in acquiring properties included in the recent announcement of the $71 million project planned for downtown by Ash Brokerage and Hanning & Bean Enterprises.
Bandemer will take office Oct. 28 at a salary “still be negotiated. But it will be over $100,000,” Henry said. The city has been without a deputy mayor since Mark Becker was named CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. in July.
Henry praised Bandemer's role in Allen County's ability to secure a General Motors Truck plant after the 1983 shutdown of International Harvester's 3,000-employee truck plant. “That was a tragic time for the city,” Henry said, but Fort Wayne weathered the storm in part by diversifying its employment base with Bandemer's help. As economic development director, Bandemer also led early efforts to revitalize downtown through the construction of the Hilton Hotel and other projects. “Somebody had to step up,” Henry said.
After his initial tour of city duty, he held leadership positions at Sturges Development Group and Northill Corp. He also worked for the Region 3A Development and Regional Planning Commission, United Way of Allen County, and the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, a transportation planning group.
Henry called Bandemer a “public servant who's committed to helping make our city the best that it can be. . . (his) leadership skills, experience in government, and expertise in economic development are unique qualities that will complement our efforts to . . . position Fort Wayne as a destination place for business growth, jobs, a great quality of life and strong neighborhoods. This is an exciting time for Fort Wayne.” Bandemer said it remains unclear which of his current roles outside city government he will keep after taking office, if any.
Henry said Bandemer's duties will be similar to those of previous deputy mayors: supervising day-to-day operations of city government so the mayor can focus on larger issues and interaction with the community.
“This is a great time to be in Fort Wayne as we continue to make our community a leader in business development and downtown revitalization,” said Bandemer, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Drake University and a master's degree in urban planning from Wayne State University.