Four candidates are facing off for the Democratic nomination for City Council's three at-large seats.

Councilwoman Michelle Chambers and challengers Stephanie Crandall, Audrey Davis and Sean Johnson come with different backgrounds and dreams but share a common goal of representing the entire city.

Republicans Luke Fries, Martin Bender and Councilman Thomas Freistroffer are also running for the available seats but all three will advance through the Republican primary to the general election because three positions are available.

Michelle Chambers

Chambers is the only incumbent Democrat seeking reelection for City Council at large. She took office in 2020 as one of the first two Black women to serve on the council and the first Black woman to represent the city at large.

As a Fort Wayne native who moved away as a child, Chambers came back to the city to serve, focused on putting people over politics.

Chambers said her main priorities are economic growth, healthy and safe neighborhoods, and governmental transparency. She said each of those goals tie into one main objective – maintaining the city's momentum.

"It is critical that we connect with our young people because they are our future," Chambers said. "We all hope we will live a long time, but it will be the young people that will come here and sustain this momentum, that will sustain the growth that we have going."

This year, Chambers brought to City Council a successful ordinance that created a tax abatement that benefits developers bringing affordable housing to the city. Tax phase-ins have traditionally been used to support economic development projects. 

If reelected, Chambers plans to continue working across the aisle with intentions to make the best decisions for all constituents.

Stephanie Crandall

Crandall said what sets her apart from her Democratic peers is her years of experience in local government. She currently is Fort Wayne's director of intergovernmental affairs.

She moved to Fort Wayne looking to start a family in the city her mom is from. Crandall said when she and her husband arrived, "there was a vibe in the air" that the city was going to open a new chapter.

If elected, Crandall wants to invest in infrastructure to better connect the city, expand housing options for residents, and retain and attract workers.

Crandall said her goals come together with a single focus on strengthening the city.

"I want Fort Wayne to be a place on the map where people can thrive and where their gifts and their talents can be put to use and where they can feel supported," she said.

Crandall, who has worked for the city for the last 10 years, said she wants to represent all of Fort Wayne because she sees the city as a whole. 

Audrey Davis

With a background in organizing to address the root issues of problems facing Fort Wayne, Davis said life circumstances prepared her to hold office.

Davis said she has faced financial struggles and roadblocks to furthering her education. She weaved bobbed and weaved while life threw punches at her from a young age. She now lives in an intentionally simple way so that others can simply live – something that drives her activism.

Davis previously was the director of social justice ministries for the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese and helped create Faith in Indiana, an initiative that reaches across religions to address societal concerns. Through that experience, Davis said she saw a disconnect between the needs of people and the actions of elected officials.

"There's a huge divorce between the expressed needs and desires of the citizenry and the outcomes that continue to get pursued and peddled as the solutions to our problems from the government," Davis said. "So I decided issue work is only as productive as what the the actual caliber of leadership is in the decision-making bodies."

Davis said what sets her apart from her opponents is her day-to-day work, which can include supporting someone whose loved one was taken by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and gathering 100 or more people to bring a case about injustices to local government meetings. Davis said she wants to use that background to make the entire city flourish.

Sean Johnson

Johnson said he is cut from a different cloth than his opponents – Democrats and Republicans alike.

Currently the Indiana Young Democrats' 3rd District chairman, Johnson said he has always been dedicated to making life better for all Fort Wayne residents. Johnson said he wants to make decisions for the city that benefit all residents despite individuals' differing perspectives.

"This run for office is personal because I want to see my city grow," he said. "I want to see other people enjoy a better quality of life. I want to see a better city."

If elected, Johnson wants to focus on proper representation, fiscal responsibility and affordable housing for the people of Fort Wayne. But ultimately, Johnson said, he just wants to give back to the city he loves.

The 30-year-old candidate said he also wants to learn from more experienced leaders and see what he can do to continue the city's growth.

"I just want to see a blossoming, equitable city with long-term growth, where we can keep our residents here," he said.