The race for Fort Wayne’s 4th District seat will pit Republican Scott Myers against Democrat Patti Hays for what could be a decisive fifth seat on the City Council after the two candidates won their primaries Tuesday.

Hays and Myers were two of several candidates who cinched spots on November general election ballots for Fort Wayne City Council.

Hays, chief executive of the AWS Foundation and co-founder of Advancing Voices of Women, defeated Bob Behr by a wide margin. She took more than 80% of the vote with 1,188 ballots to Behr’s 283, according to final unofficial results from the Allen County Election Board.

In 2019, Hays nearly defeated Councilman Jason Arp in 2019, coming 309 votes short. Now, with the incumbent off the ballot after an unsuccessful mayoral run, she hopes her second run will be the one that puts her on City Council.

“There were people who would say, ‘Patti, I voted for you four years ago.’ And there were a few people who, when I knocked on the door, I remembered them as well,” Hays said Tuesday of her time canvassing this spring. “That’s a lot of what it takes to win. … That time going door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood.”

However, Hays said she doesn’t want people to vote for her based on name recognition alone.

“I want to make sure they’re voting for Patti Hays because I knocked on their door, they agree with me on the future of the city and they see that I want to be their advocate,” she said.

Standing between Hays and victory – and, possibly, between the Democratic Party and a majority on the City Council – is Myers, a pediatrician and member of the Aboite Township Board. He defeated hotel owner Joe Townsend 1,614 votes to 1,294, earning 55.5% of the Republican primary vote.

Myers said his victory is the first step in giving neighborhoods a voice.

“Over the last decade and a half, neighborhoods have had no say in infrastructure spending and community policy,” he said. “This general election cycle will be about giving neighborhoods that place in city government. I look forward to finding that pathway and reestablishing neighborhoods as a force.”

The victory was exciting and humbling, Myers said after the final tallies were announced.

“I don’t take anything for granted,” Myers said. “I’m just excited to keep working for the city. … I think my opponent is certainly very formidable and well respected. Hopefully we can just have an honest exchange of good ideas.”

3rd District

The final unofficial numbers showed Nathan Hartman winning by a 330-vote margin, 1,191 (58.04%) to 861 (41.96%), over his opponent, Mike Thomas. Hartman credits meeting people and knocking on doors as the reason for his success in the 3rd District.

“This is a district race,” he said. “It’s all about getting out and meeting the voters.”

Hartman told the audience gathered Tuesday night at Allen County Republican Party Headquarters that campaigning out in the cold prepared him for the evening’s chilly weather.

In the November general election, Harman is set to run unopposed. If that doesn’t change – both parties still have time to fill vacant ballot lines – he’s the presumptive replacement for Republican Tom Didier, who held the District 3 seat for 20 years. Didier, like Arp, had to give up his council seat to run for mayor.

Neither Hartman nor Thomas has held an elected office. Hartman ran for an at-large City Council seat in 2019 and won in the primary but lost in the general election. He also ran for Allen County Council in 2016.

Hartman called the primary win something he’s been working on for seven years. He also works as a pension actuary and holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University.

Hartman currently serves on the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, has been on several city boards and ran for an at-large City Council seat in 2019. He said he’ll appreciate the win before looking at the general election.

“I’m just excited to get through the day,” he said. “We’ll see what November brings.”

At-large race

Councilwoman Michelle Chambers led the field in the Democratic at-large primary as she, Stephanie Crandall and Audrey Davis moved on to the general election.

Chambers came in first with 6,694 votes (34.17%), followed by Crandall with 5,117 (26.12%) and Davis with 4,782 (24.41%). Sean Johnson, chair of the 3rd Congressional District’s Young Democrats, came in fourth with 2,998, or about 15.3% of the vote.

In the general election, those three will face three Republicans: Luke Fries, Martin “Marty” Bender and incumbent Councilman Tom Freistroffer.

As the only incumbent at-large Democrat seeking reelection after longtime Councilman Glynn Hines declined to run for another term, Chambers hopes to win a second term on the council and said she’s excited voters gave her an opportunity to run for another four years.

Chambers said she wants to continue the work she’s undertaken over the past few years, including on affordable housing, bringing private-public partnerships to the city and creating an environment with living-wage jobs.

“I want to make sure that we are growing our neighborhoods by adding additional dollars,” Chambers said. “Making sure that neighborhoods can take control of their community and grow it and improve it.”

With Tuesday’s results, every Democratic council nominee but one – incumbent Councilman Geoff Paddock – is a woman. Davis said the three Democratic at-large candidates envision a future for Fort Wayne that is inclusive, equitable and prosperous for all residents.

“We will be those three powerful women who will help Fort Wayne reach new heights,” Davis said. “We may not agree on everything, but we will all be Democrats, and Democrats have a shared vision of what our future looks like.”

Davis, a community organizer, also congratulated Johnson on running an “excellent race.”

“I’m sure that there will come a time where we are up here celebrating together, Sean,” she said.

Crandall, Fort Wayne’s director of intergovernmental affairs, echoed a theme mentioned by Mayor Tom Henry and others during the Democrats’ watch party.

“We can do so much more if we had a Democratic majority on council, and I look forward to being a part of that come November,” Crandall said.

James D. Wolf Jr. of The Journal Gazette contributed to this report.

Former Statehouse and General Assignment Reporter

Reporter Brett Stover covered the Indiana Statehouse and general assignments for The Journal Gazette through May 2023.