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  • Sharon Tucker visits with guests at Bergstaff Place on election night Tuesday. (Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette)

Wednesday, May 08, 2019 1:00 am

City Council incumbents hold off rivals

New faces also get shot in November

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

There will be a lot of familiar faces and some new ones on Fort Wayne's November general election ballot.

Four Republican city councilmen survived primary challenges Tuesday night. Councilmen Michael Barranda, Tom Freistroffer, Tom Didier and Jason Arp will all return to the ticket in November. They will be joined by newcomers Nathan Hartman and Taylor Vanover.

In the Democratic primary, Councilman Glynn Hines won nomination to run for Fort Wayne City Council at-large. He will be joined in November by Michelle Chambers and Fort Wayne Community Schools Board member Steve Corona.

Other Democrats running for council in November are John Henry, Patti Hays and County Councilwoman Sharon Tucker.

District 3

Didier, R-3rd, faced off against Walgreens manager Mike Thomas. Didier, who is running for his fifth term, received 1,485 votes to Thomas' 1,153, according to unofficial returns provided by the Allen County Election Board.

Of his goals for a new term if he's elected, Didier said he wants to foster economic growth.

“We're going to grow, we're going to make our city more prosperous,” Didier said. “That's what it's all about.”

Didier will face Democrat John Henry Nov. 5. Henry defeated Palermo Galindo 484 votes to 395.

“The whole City Council needs to be stirred up a little bit,” Henry said, adding that one of his goals is to get people involved and excited about the community.

District 4

Hays celebrated her 64th birthday Tuesday by defeating Jorge Fernandez in the Democratic primary.

Hays received more than 78% of the vote on the city's southwest side in her first appearance on an election ballot. Fernandez, 30, who had previously run twice for a seat in the Indiana House, received about 22% of the vote Tuesday.

“Names are known in different fashions, and for my 28 years here I've worked very hard to give to the community. ... So I've gotten my name out there,” Hays said. “It's been a great campaign, though, in terms of mobilizing a great group of volunteers.

She is chief executive officer of AWS Foundation, which helps people with disabilities, and a co-founder of Advancing Voices of Women, a nonprofit group formed in 2017 to encourage greater civic participation by women, including in government and politics. The City Council has no female members.

On the Republican side, Arp defeated newcomer Rachel Lott for the District 4 nomination, receiving 2,415 total votes. Lott received 1,553 total votes.

“I was challenged based on me being willing to say things other people weren't willing to say, being able to point out facts that others weren't willing to point out and be able to bring truth into the light so the voters can discern for themselves what vision they want for the vision of Fort Wayne,” Arp said.

District 6

Tucker easily won the Democratic nomination for the City Council seat representing the southeast side of town, effectively securing a council seat in the process.

The Allen County councilwoman attracted 89.6% of the 6th District Democratic vote to 6.6% for Hakim Muhammad and 3.7% for Tom Cook in the city's 6th District.

No one filed to run for the seat in the Republican primary election in the heavily Democratic district. State law gives parties until June 30 to fill ballot vacancies for the November municipal elections.

Tucker, 47, manager at 1st Source Insurance and owner of Classy Shay Designs, said Tuesday she took nothing for granted in the primary election, even though she was heavily favored.

“I want to be able to represent the community, and for me, the only way to do that is to get out and work,” Tucker said. She said she and her supporters campaigned door to door, made “hundreds and hundreds of phone calls” to voters and were on social media.

At large

Nathan Hartman, who ran for Allen County Council in 2016, did not expect to be the top vote-getter in the GOP primary for City Council at large. Hartman received 10,258 total votes.

Hartman said he plans to focus on bringing better roads, jobs, contracts and deals to Fort Wayne.

Hines has spent 20 years representing Fort Wayne's 6th District. Now, he will make the case for why voters should entrust him with the entire city.

Hines said he will continue to focus on the same things he's focused on for the past 20 years: accountability and making sure his decisions have a positive impact.

Freistroffer said he was happy to see three strong Republicans heading into the November general election for City Council at large. Freistroffer secured one of those nominations with 9,506 votes.

“You never take anything for granted, but I think Republicans have a very good chance and I think they have a very good chance at taking the mayoral position in the general election,” he said.

Chambers said she was very excited about her win on Tuesday, noting that she could not have done it by herself. Moving forward, she plans to focus on working strategically and making sure that Democratic Party candidates are in touch with voters.

Chambers received 5,995 votes Tuesday.

“We have an opportunity here to create a very diverse City Council,” Chambers said. “It won't be an easy run, but if we work together, we have the possibility of flipping some seats and having a very impactful City Council.”

Corona received 3,826 votes to secure one of three Democratic Party nominations for City Council at large. Corona said he plans to work with the other two nominees to make the argument that City Council is due for a change in leadership.

Primaries are always hard, Barranda said, for everyone involved, but especially for incumbents. Barranda said he plans to sit down with mayoral candidate Tim Smith and develop a strategy to work together.

“As an incumbent, everyone's kind of after you, out to get you, and you just hope that your service and your reputation speaks for itself and that the job that you've done will keep you in there,” Barranda said.

Barranda received 8,753 total votes.

The Journal Gazette's Matt LeBlanc and Brian Francisco contributed to this story.