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News-Sentinel Editorial: Experience makes Paddock best choice in District 5

Geoff Paddock has been a positive influence in Fort Wayne’s 5th District since first being elected to the City Council in 2011, and News-Sentinel.com believes he deserves to stay in that office for a third term.

Paddock, executive director of Headwaters Park Alliance, proudly touts his part in promoting the redevelopment of Electric Works more than four years ago. He counts those efforts as evidence of his priority to invest in the infrastructure of neighborhoods as the most important thing City Council does.

Paddock, a Democrat, was unopposed in the 2015 election for his second term but this year has a Republican opponent, 21-year-old Tyler Vanover. Vanover likely has a promising future in politics, but the gap between his experience and Paddock’s is significant, making Paddock the clear choice in this election.

The 5th District includes downtown Fort Wayne as well as the Wells Street and Broadway corridors. It has 45 neighborhoods and, as Paddock points out, “is wide and diverse.”

While the future of the $248 million west campus first phase of the Electric Works project is still uncertain, Paddock is convinced the project would be transformational and should go forward. His early efforts led to the eventual purchase of the property and the public/private partnership between the city and RTM Ventures.

Redevelopment of the abandoned 39-acre General Electric campus “would rejuvenate neighborhoods that need help,” Paddock told the News-Sentinel.com editorial board. Working with Council President Dr. John Crawford, a Republican, he said, resulted in a Council vote of 6-3 for $10 million of funding from the city’s Legacy Fund for the project.

“I try to work with both sides,” Paddock said of being one of only two Democrats on Council. “I always try to find common ground… We’re mostly non-partisan.”

Paddock can also point to Promenade Park and the rejuvenated Clyde Theatre in Quimby Village as success stories in his district.

Another concern of Council candidates in this year’s election has been public safety. “I’m pleased we’ve increased the number of police officers from 450 or so to 480 now,” Paddock said. “I appreciate seeing officers on their bikes downtown as well as in some of the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Paddock said that’s a way they can get acquainted with neighbors and build trust with them.

Vanover, who moved to Fort Wayne from Wells County, said he has always been interested in public service. When he moved into the 5th District, he saw places where there weren’t sidewalks and noticed abandoned buildings. He got involved in neighborhood associations where, he said, people didn’t know who their councilman was. He didn’t show up at their meetings. “I felt I should ‘be the change you want to see,'” he said.

Part of his platform is his “Vanover Plan” in which $20 million in the city budget would be set aside for projects that need to be done but normally only get talked about. Neighborhoods would recommend projects to their council members.

“There would be competition for the $20 million,” Vanover said. “Eventually I’d like the citizenry to be involved in prioritization” of what he said would be a budgetary refund.

Vanover implied Paddock doesn’t attend neighborhood association meetings, the councilman said he has regularly organized neighborhood walks to identify problems throughout the district.

We think Paddock has responded to the needs of his 43,000 constituents and has a sincere desire to continue the progress of improvements in neighborhoods made in recent years.

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