The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 22, 2019 1:00 am

Mayoral candidates' forum set

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne's mayoral candidates will answer questions about quality-of-life topics at an Oct. 17 public forum at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Arts United, WFWA-TV PBS39, the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics and the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne will present the forum at 7 p.m. at Auer Performance Hall in Rhinehart Music Center. The forum will be televised live by PBS39.

Bruce Haines, general manager of PBS39, will be the moderator. Admission is free. No one will be allowed to enter Auer Performance Hall after 6:45 p.m., when doors will close for the broadcast.

Democratic Mayor Tom Henry is being challenged by Republican Tim Smith in the Nov. 5 city election.

2020 field grows for Democrats

Josh Owens of Indianapolis has become Indiana's first openly gay candidate for governor.

Owens, 34, announced Monday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2020. He is the chief executive officer of SupplyKick, a company that develops digital advertising, marketing and distribution strategies for retailers.

He is the second announced candidate for the Democratic nomination, joining former state health commissioner Woody Myers. State Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary is considering running.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb plans to seek a second term next year.

Owens is a native of Shelbyville and a graduate of Wabash College and the London School of Economics. He is a member of the boards of the Orr Fellowship, the Indy Chamber and TechPoint Indiana and is a former chairman of the Indiana Charter School Board.

Owens said in an online campaign video: “I'm running for governor now because I believe in an Indiana where teachers are paid what they deserve, where health care is affordable for all Indiana families, where the economy works for all of us, where Hoosiers feel safe no matter where they are. And I believe in an Indiana where all are welcomed, respected and protected.”

His candidacy statement said his priorities include increasing teacher pay, eliminating textbook fees for public school students, increasing the smoking age, decriminalizing marijuana, strengthening background checks for public and private gun purchases and extending protections against discrimination in housing and the workplace to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Owens is married to Andy Owens. Josh Owens' candidacy statement said he is the state's first openly gay candidate for governor, “but he hopes the campaign will be issues-based.”

Groups set to meet candidates

The Upstate Alliance of Realtors and Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana will host Meet the Candidates Night on Oct. 2 for members of four organizations.

The event is open to Greater Fort Wayne Inc. investors and members of the Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne, the Upstate Alliance of Realtors and Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana.

The forum will feature Allen County candidates for mayor, city and town council, city clerk and town clerk-treasurer in the Nov. 5 municipal elections. It will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Club Soda, 235 E. Superior St. Admission is free, and RSVPs are due by Sept. 30.

Holcomb honored

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday named Gov. Eric Holcomb its 2019 Bayh-Lugar Government Leader of the Year.

The Indiana Chamber recognized Holcomb for his Next Level agenda and its focus on the opioid epidemic.

“Substance misuse has hit Indiana hard and the Governor has responded with a variety of initiatives to help Hoosiers,” Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said in a statement. “His partnership with us on the Indiana Workforce Recovery program has enabled employers throughout the state to receive detailed guidelines on what steps they can take and a better understanding of the positive role they can play with their workers to get them back to being a more productive employee and person.”

The Indiana Chamber also praised Holcomb for enacting legislation to expand pre-kindergarten for children from low-income families, long-term highway funding and broadband service expansion in rural areas. And the business advocacy organization said Holcomb “led the charge” for passage of a hate crimes sentencing law.

The Indiana Chamber said it renamed its Government Leader of the Year award to pay tribute to Birch Bayh and Richard Lugar, former U.S. senators from Indiana who died this year.

The organization's 30th annual awards dinner, presented by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, will be Nov. 7 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The keynote speakers will be Fox News commentators Donna Brazile and Dana Perino. For ticket information, go to or call 800-824-6885.

Legislative internships

College students and recent graduates are invited to apply for the Indiana House Republican Internship Program for the 2020 legislative session at the Statehouse.

Northeast Indiana lawmakers seeking interns include Republican Reps. David Abbott of Rome City, Ben Smaltz of Auburn and Denny Zent of Angola. Students can apply for internships in such areas as legislative operations, communications and media relations, policy and fiscal policy.

The full-time internships are Mondays through Fridays from January through mid-March. Interns receive biweekly compensation of $750 and can earn academic credit through their college or university. Interns also are eligible to apply for a competitive $3,000 scholarship to use toward undergraduate and graduate expenses.

Information and the application can be found at

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Note-book by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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