FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) — Two Republican mayoral candidates for the city of Fort Wayne will face off in a town-hall style debate Thursday night at the Arts United Center.
The debate, hosted by the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, will be between City Council President John Crawford and local businessman Tim Smith.
It’s scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Ian Rollan Gallery.
ABC21 spoke with local political expert Andy Downs to see what the candidates need to do to consider the debate a success.
Downs is an associate professor of political science at Purdue University Fort Wayne and the director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.
Downs says Crawford shouldn’t even mention Tim Smith, adding that he should focus on his name recognition from his more than 20 years as an elected official and explaining some of his controversial votes.
“That’s probably not a bad idea because those who hate him probably aren’t going to be convinced otherwise. Those who are undecided will say ‘That’s good reasoning. That’s a thoughtful individual and I like that,'” said Downs.
Conversely, he believes it would be in Tim Smith’s best interest to point out those controversial votes made by Crawford and he needs to find a way to show voters that they shouldn’t be satisfied with the status quo and that they need something new.
Ultimately, Downs says Smith should try and get Crawford to respond when he calls out his voting record.
“But if Tim Smith can get him to engage and demonstrate that they are equals intellectually, ideologically — in terms of actually having an ideology — that’s good for Tim Smith,” said Downs.
The debate will not be broadcasted on television. Anyone interested in attending should contact the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana.
David Roach is another Republican running for mayor, but will not be taking part in the debate.
After the debate, the primaries are coming fast. The primary elections will be held May 7th.
The deadline to register to vote is April 8th. Voters can check their registration status here.