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Party like it's 1999


Fort Wayne Reader


“Sure, with his high-profile office, his experience and his fund raising ability, Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters appears to be the 800 lb gorilla in the GOP primary. However, keep this name in mind - Joe Squadrito. Back in 1999, the smart money was certain that Allen County Sheriff Joe Squadrito would be to be a shoo-in against his lesser-known opponent in that year’s GOP primary. But the smart money was wrong. Squadrito was soundly defeated by a political newcomer - Linda Buskirk. The lesson? Conventional wisdom isn’t always so wise. Keep the faith.”

That was Political Animal’s unsolicited advice to Matt Kelty back in February. Not only did Kelty post the column on his website, he followed Linda Buskirk’s 1999 GOP primary example by running an aggressive, grassroots campaign.

With a similarly low-turnout election, Buskirk’s margin of victory over Squadrito was actually larger than Kelty’s over Peters. However, Kelty’s win could have a far greater impact on the party - especially as it pertains to other Republican’s on the November ballot. As this week’s cover story (see page 8) reveals, Kelty might need to mend some fences within the GOP to win the genuine support of the party’s heavy-hitters and money people.

While Kelty and Peters battled it out on the Republican side, former Fort Wayne City Councilman Tom Henry cruised to victory on the Democratic side against two political unknowns.

Henry, who served 20 years as the 3rd district council representative, will undoubtedly run on his experience. However, Henry also knows from experience that experience doesn’t always win the day. He lost his council seat to political newbee Tom Didier.

Like many political watchers, Henry deemed Nelson Peters to be the heir apparent for the GOP. As such, Henry admits that his campaign had already begun to draw up strategies for competing against Peters in the fall. Those plans were dumped early into primary election night when Kelty’s lead showed no signs of weakening. Henry immediately switched gears to a Kelty scenario.

The Henry campaign has a new website. The address is tomhenryformayor.com

The Buskirk name will once again surface in a city election campaign. It’s not Linda this time but her husband Ron who is on the ballot. He ran uncontested for the GOP nomination for the 5th district. That seat is currently held by Democrat Tim Pape! who easily won the Democratic primary. Pape! is seeking his third term. Ron Buskirk retired from the Fort Wayne Police Department following 30-years of service. He currentl serves as Vice-President/Business Ethics and Corporate Compliance Officer at St. Joseph Hospital. He ran for state senate several years back but lost to State Senator David Long.

In the 4th district, Republican Mitch Harper will face Democrat Charles Langley. At 26 years of age, Langley will be the youngest Fort Wayne City Council candidate this November. Republican Tom Didier is seeking re-election in the 3rd district against Democrat Debra McBride. Incumbent 6th district Councilman Glynn Hines had no challenger in the Democratic primary. His Republican opponent in November will be Joe Smith, Sr. In the 1st district, Democrat Kevin Boyd will try to unseat Republican Tom Smith. And in the 2nd district Democrat Karen Goldner hopes to force Don Schmidt into retirement after 100 years on city council - well, 35 years, actually.

Those are just the district races. The real wide cards might be the At-Large contests. Three Republicans will face three Democrats for three At-Large seats. The three top vote-getters win a spot on council. The candidates are incumbent John Crawford, Liz Brown and Marty Bender (who previously served on City Council) on the Republican side. For the Democrats, the candidates are incumbent John Shoaff, Denise Porterr-Ross and former Wayne Township Trustee (and former Fort Wayne Mayoral candidate) Thomas Essex.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.