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Challengers for city council at-large, mayor featured in ‘Conversation With the Candidates’

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) – We talked to three men running in next month’s city primary election who hope to give incumbents a run for their money.

“I started knocking on doors back in August, and a lot of voters are unhappy with the current direction of city council,” said Joe Townsend, who seems fully prepared to embrace the title of underdog in the field of candidates trying to be winning nominees in the May 7th GOP primary.

Five Republicans are running for three spots.

Michael Barranda and Tom Freistroffer are incumbents seeking re-election.

Townsend is one of three challengers hoping to advance to the general election in November.

Meet the Candidate: Joseph Townsend (R)

He has training in retail and hotel management–right now, he is a sales manager at Rent A Center in New Haven.

He feels more attention should be paid to neighborhoods, which is one reason he’s a little uncomfortable with how much public money was dedicated to Electric Works on the fringe of downtown.

“I think the project as a whole is a good idea, but in terms of the amount of public dollars that went into it, that’s why I think a lot of people are leery of it, especially with how the neighborhoods are crumbling,” Townsend said.

Another relative newcomer to the local political scene is also running for council at-large on the GOP ticket.

We’re talking about Nathan Hartman.

Hartman hopes his job as an actuarial pension consultant adds up to a winning nomination when the ballots are counted in two weeks.

Meet the Candidate: Nathan Hartman (R)

Hartman talks about the work he has put in, meeting with hundreds of potential voters.

He says he keeps hearing the same messages from folks as he goes door to door, and part of their feedback has to do with getting back to basics.

“If we’re not picking up trash, we’re not fighting crime, we’re not solving some of these real issues that the city struggles with, then they get very frustrated if they see us doing other projects like economic development projects,” Hartman said.

In the Democratic mayor’s race, unconventional candidate Tommy Schrader is taking on Gina Burgess and incumbent Mayor Tom Henry.

Despite the fact Henry has been elected three times by voters, Schrader says the city can do better.

A man who has dealt at times with homelessness in his own life, says, if elected, he would fight for people struggling to find a place to live.

He says he is no fan of the smoking ban that was enacted years ago in the city, claiming it would come under attack if he has anything to say about it.

“I think smokers have rights. In fact, one out of four voters smoke, so, I want all the voters…smokers in Fort Wayne to vote for me. I will repeal it if I’m mayor,” Schrader said.

We will have his full interview available for viewing in this story starting Wednesday.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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