The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 26, 2021 1:00 am

2nd Democrat enters House District 82 race

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

The newly drawn House District 82 in Fort Wayne has attracted another candidate.

Melissa Rinehart will run in the Democratic primary.

Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Rinehart is executive director of Wellspring Interfaith Social Services. She also has worked as an educator, trainer, researcher, writer and advocate for marginalized populations.

“I feel inspired to seek public office because I am committed to helping all individuals in our community thrive,” Rinehart said. “In Allen County, 1 in 3 residents is considered economically vulnerable or at risk. They either live in poverty or work but are unable to make ends meet. We can't depend on nonprofits alone to solve this inequality. I believe I can help find sustainable solutions by affecting policy at the state level.”

A Snider High School graduate, Rinehart has a bachelor's degree in political science from IPFW; a master's degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Texas San Antonio; and a master's degree and doctorate in cultural anthropology from Michigan State University.

She will face Kyle Miller in the Democratic primary in May. He came close to unseating GOP Rep. Martin Carbaugh in previous races but now is in a different district.

A lighter moment

Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Sharon Tucker couldn't help but laugh when she was reappointed Tuesday to the Solid Waste Advisory Board.

Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, who is also the council's president, asked if he missed something, to which Tucker said no.

Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, who was the other appointment to the advisory board, then laughed along with Tucker. Jehl and Tucker have been critical of how the Solid Waste Division has handled its seven-year contract with Red River Waste Solutions as the city's trash hauler.

“Your service is greatly appreciated,” Ensley said with a smile. “You guys have done a phenomenal job on there, and I appreciate you guys wanting to stay on there.”

More council members joined in the laughter as they all voted – with the exception of one – in support of the appointments. That's when Tucker raised her voice to abstain from the vote, which was followed by a roar of laughter.

“You abstain?” Ensley asked in disbelief as he laughed.

Tucker quipped, “You gotta lighten the mood.”

Governor's appointments

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently made appointments to various boards and commissions.

One northeast Indiana resident was tapped.

Jill Forte of Roanoke was named to the Behavioral Analyst Committee. She is the executive director with Children's Autism Center Inc.

She will serve through 2025.

Devan Filchak of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

Political Notebook wants to hear from you. Send your burning questions or tips about state and local government or politics to and we will attempt to get you answers.

Share this article

Email story

Subscribe to our newsletters

* indicates required