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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, March 02, 2019 1:00 am

GOP mayoral hopefuls to debate

Exchange of views to be town hall style

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

The debate season in local politics has begun.

Fort Wayne Republican mayoral candidates John Crawford and Tim Smith will debate Thursday in the Ian Rolland Gallery at Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St. 

Sponsored by Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, the debate begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Crawford and Smith are two of the three Republicans running in the May 7 GOP primary election. The other Republican candidate, David Roach, was not invited to the debate, said Brandon Noll, a YLNI board member.

Noll said he invited the two candidates “who have the greatest shot.”

Matthew P. McLaughlin also filed to run for mayor in the Republican primary, but the Allen County Election Board removed him from the ballot Tuesday. Roach had filed a challenge against McLaughlin with the election board, saying McLaughlin had no primary Republican voting history in Indiana and did not have a certification letter from the party chairman allowing him to run as required by law.

Noll said he plans to have the winner of the Republican primary debate Mayor Tom Henry in the fall, assuming Henry wins the Democratic primary election. Henry faces Gina Burgess and Tommy Schrader.

Noll said he's expecting a capacity crowd to attend Thursday's debate between Crawford and Smith.

“Two hundred is the cap,” and about 160 have reserved seats, he said.

Andy Beckman of WMEE-FM 97.3 will moderate the debate. The candidates will be given about 20 minutes for introductions and 40 minutes for questions, Noll said.

“It's going to be town hall-style, so it's going to be very laid back,” Noll said.

Those who want to attend the debate can email Noll at or go to a link on the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana Facebook page.