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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 8:36 pm

Mayoral candidates agree to televised debate

Dave Gong|The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne's mayoral candidates will square off in a televised debate one week before the Nov. 3 election. 

Democratic Mayor Tom Henry will meet Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, for the only televised debate of the election at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Walb Student Center at IPFW. The debate will be hosted by WANE-TV and the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics. 

"The mayor is really looking forward to participating in the debate and the campaign is really an opportunity to have a discussion with voters and the community and make sure that they're fully informed on where the candidates stand on the issues ... ," Robert Dible, Henry's campaign manager, said. "It's just a very important part of making sure people are informed as they head to the polls and we're really looking forward to participating."

Harper also said he is looking forward to the debate and noted that he is pleased with the debate format. 

"I think people will walk away from the debate knowing my commitment to protect the Legacy Funds, they're going to know about my commitment to neighborhoods, and they're going to know what vision I have about ensuring there's jobs and economic development here in Fort Wayne," he said. "But I think they'll see a contrast between the candidates."

Harper also took the opportunity to rib his opponent, stating that he's looking forward to hearing Henry respond to questions.

"We're always puzzled that it's always a spokesman and never the mayor who addresses these issues," he said. 

Moderators will ask questions, giving the candidates time to respond. Both candidates will also be able to ask their opponent one question on topics that include public safety, downtown development and Fort Wayne's future. 

"Certainly the topics that WANE has chosen as the focus of the discussion are very, very important topics and something the voters are going to be interested to hear from both candidates on," Dible said. 

While the debate at IPFW is the only formal debate expected before the Nov. 3 election, Dible said there are several other less formal candidate events scheduled for the next few months where residents will be able to meet both candidates. The mayor will be attending a candidates night hosted by the Board of Realtors at 5 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Embassy Theatre, the Fraternal Order of Police local candidates night at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 and the Building Contractors' Association's meet the candidates reception at 5 p.m. Oct. 15. Dible noted that Henry plans to attend numerous other community events and candidate forums over the coming months as well. 

Harper said he will also be attending those events, among others, between now and November. 

Tickets to the Oct. 26 event will be available via both campaigns and the debate will be broadcast live on WANE-TV. 

dgong@jg.net