Voters in Fort Wayne City Council districts 1, 2 and 5 will find no contested races on Republican or Democratic ballots. Incumbents Paul Ensley, Russ Jehl and Geoff Paddock do not face primary challengers. Republican Taylor Vanover will challenge Paddock, a Democrat, in the fall. The Allen County Democratic Party has until June 30 to select candidates who might challenge Republicans Ensley and Jehl.
Our endorsement schedule
April 7: Fort Wayne Council at large
Today: Fort Wayne Council District 3
Wednesday: Fort Wayne Council District 4
Thursday: Fort Wayne Council District 6
Friday: New Haven mayor
Sunday: Fort Wayne mayor
Find past endorsements online at journalgazette.net/Opinion/Endorsements
In the May 7 primary, there are contested races in three of Fort Wayne's six City Council districts. Today we look at the candidates in the 3rd District, which comprises much of the northwest side. There, incumbent Republican Tom Didier faces a primary challenge from Mike Thomas, a political newcomer concerned about public-private development. In the Democratic race, the city's neighborhood liaison, Palermo “Pal” Galindo, and marketer John J. Henry are seeking the right to take on the four-term councilman.
First elected in 2003, Didier, a sales representative for US Foods, is known as a moderate, one of several Republicans who regularly cross partisan boundaries on economic-development and quality-of-life issues.
He says he's trying to serve the needs of a diverse district that includes affluent developments in the Dupont Road area as well as more modest, older neighborhoods in the north-central area. “They're all constituents, whether they're Republicans or Democrats,” Didier said. “I have to look at it from the perspective of an independent thinker.''
Didier's pragmatic approach has included voting to fund Electric Works and to support an increase in local option income taxes and creation of a city wheel tax to help maintain streets despite his anti-tax instincts. He showed his proclivity for solutions over rhetoric last year, when community anger over Red River Waste Solutions' inability to meet garbage and recycling pickup needs made the Democratic mayoral administration a tempting target for easy political points. As part of a mayor's task force, Didier played a lead role in developing new routes for Red River, which seems to have improved service dramatically.
A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Thomas is a retail manager who has been involved in politics for about a decade. “I've been frustrated with seeing the amount of taxpayer money going to downtown development projects.” He also is concerned about the effect of water and sewer rate increases on people with limited budgets and about depletion of the Legacy Fund. “Somebody's got to run to hold this council accountable, and so I decided to run.”
Galindo's sense of the community's needs has been honed during 10 years as the mayoral administration's point person for residents and neighborhoods. “I'm hands-on. I answer calls all the time,” he said. “I have experience with city government. I know who to talk to to maneuver through the city in connecting people” with the resources they need. Among the city's biggest challenges, he says, are “safety, infrastructure, quality of life in the neighborhoods and diversity – how do you reach out to different cultures and work together?”
Galindo is proud of the low-key work he does to bring stakeholders together, as when he helped develop the Franklin School Park, which opened in 2016.
A second cousin to Mayor Tom Henry, John Henry is a former radio personality and salesman who transitioned into marketing. He plans to use his seat to see constituents are better informed about where their taxes are going and how to access services. “I want to give the tools to the people that they know who to call, when to call,” Henry said.
Didier and Galindo, two experienced public servants dedicated to moving the city forward, would be the better Republican and Democratic choices for the general election this fall.