Tim Smith defeats John Crawford, will challenge Tom Henry for mayor in November
It will be a three-term veteran against a political novice in the November race for mayor of Fort Wayne, thanks to incumbent Democrat Tom Henry’s route of two challengers and Republican businessman Tim Smith’s surprisingly easy defeat of City Council President John Crawford in Tuesday’s primaries.
Henry and Smith each hope to use the contrast to their advantage.
“Henry was elected to City Council in 1983 and has been mayor for 12 years,” said Smith, who received 56.39 percent of the vote compared to 42.15 percent for Crawford and 1.46 for David Roach. “Downtown’s a nice place, but the city has lost a lot of high-paying jobs.” Smith, an executive at MedPro, said he will personally work to change that by making Fort Wayne a more attractive place to do business — and with fewer incentives than Henry and Crawford have supported.
Henry, however, noted that until now Smith has been relatively unknown and “has never served on a (city) board or commission or even asked to serve.” Henry said that lack of involvement shows a lack of commitment. “And (Smith) talks about making Fort Wayne a ‘stronger, safer city,’ but our unemployment rate is 3.5 percent. We have more jobs than qualified people to fill them.” Henry received 86.17 percent of the vote compared to 11.09 percent for Gina Burgess and 2.74 percent for Tommy Schrader.
Crawford’s run for mayor guaranteed there will be at least one new at-large City Council member next year. Incumbents Tom Freistroffer (22.92 percent of the vote) and Michael Barranda (21.10 percent) prevailed Tuesday and will be joined on the November GOP ballot by Nathan Hartman, who received 24.83 percent. Eric Tippmann received 16.92 percent and Joe Townsend 14.33 percent.
In the Democrat at-large race, qualifying for the general election were Michelle Chambers (29.32 percent of the vote), current 6th District Councilman Glynn Hines (27.06 percent) and Steve Corona, 18.71 percent. MaryClare Akers received 17.59 percent and Curtis Nash 7.32 percent.
“I never take anything for granted, but being incumbent helps and I think I’ve done an above-average job,” Freistroffer said. (The GOP) can keep all three at-large seats (in November). Our base is out there.”
Chambers also considers it essential to get the Democratic base to vote in a race currently monopolized by Republicans. “We have to be strategic to flip these seats, but we have a strong ticket,” she said.
In the most hotly contested district council race, incumbent 4th District Republican Jason Arp handily defeated Rachel Lott, garnering 60.86 percent of the vote to Lott’s 39.14 percent. Republicans Paul Ensley and Russ Jehl were unopposed in the 1st and 2nd districts, respectfully, while incumbent Tom Didier won 56.29 percent of the vote in the 3rd District compared to 43.71 percent for Mike Thomas. Taylor Vanover was unopposed in the 5th District and there was no Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 6th District.
In Democratic council district races, John J. Henry received 55.06 percent of the vote in the 3rd District compared to 44.94 percent for Palermo Galindo. In the 4th District Patti Hays received 78.27 percent and Jorge Fernandez 21.73 percent. Incumbent Geoff Paddock was unopposed in the 5th District, and current Allen County Councilwoman Sharon Tucker easily won in the 6th, taking 89.64 percent of he vote compared to 6.63 percent for Hakim Muhammad and 3.74 percent for Tom Cook. There was no Democratic candidate in the 1st District.
Incumbent Republican City Clerk Lana Keesling was unopposed, as was Democratic clerk candidate Katie Zuber. Keesling received 13,869 votes compared to 6,792 for Zuber.
In a brief speech at GOP Headquarters, Crawford congratulated Smith on his victory and his “great campaign. I left it all out on the field, and have no regrets. I do have a lot of signs to pick up.”
Smith, whom Crawford had accused during the campaign of resorting to negative ads, was gracious Tuesday.
“To say that John was a formidable opponent would be a gross understatement. He’s been an A-plus City Councilman for 20 years,” Smith said. “I was nervous because of (Crawford’s) work ethic and status. He has my utmost respect.
“And Tom Henry has never seen the kind of campaign we’re going to run.”
New Haven races
Also stopping by GOP Headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne was Steve McMichael, who won the party’s nomination for mayor of New Haven by receiving 51.51 percent of the vote compared to 25.08 percent for Bob Nelson and 23.42 percent for Steve Poiry.
“It will be an honor to fill the shoes of Terry McDonald,” he said, referring to the incumbent Republican who is not seeking re-election. “We’re going to build a better New Haven.” McMichael said his first priority will be to review utility service in Allen County’s second-largest city.
There were no Democratic candidates for New Haven mayor Tuesday, or for City Council, either. In the at-large race, David Cheviron (38.53 percent) and Terry Werling (33.8 percent) will be on the November ballot, besting J. Pat Anderson (27.67 percent).
Floyd Ball was unopposed in the 1st District, while Jeff Turner easily prevailed in the 2nd District, getting 55.41 percent of the vote compared to 29.29 percent for Dennis Schebig and 15.3 percent for Sarah DiGangi. Incumbent Craig Dellinger was unopposed in the 3rd District, while Michael Mowery (51.94 percent) defeated Bob Byrd (48.06 percent) in the 4th and Matthew Kennedy received 54.91 percent in the 5th compared to 45.09 percent for Eric Amstutz.
No Democrat was on the New Haven clerk-treasurer ballot, but Natalie Strock won the GOP nomination by getting 50.16 percent of the vote compared to 49.84 percent for Melissa Hayes.
A total of 26,624 votes were cast, a turnout of 14.35 percent, according to the Allen County Election Board.