Jason Arp's mayoral campaign has cleared the path for two Republican candidates who hope to succeed him in the Fort Wayne City Council's 4th District seat.
The GOP primary pits Dr. Scott Myers, a member of the Aboite Township Board, against hotel owner Joe Townsend.
Townsend, 37, worked at Rent-A-Center in New Haven before buying the Best Western Luxbury Inn on Coventry Lane last year. In 2019, he ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for an at-large seat on the council, finishing last among the five candidates.
Myers, 52, is a pediatrician and an associate professor at the Indiana University Fort Wayne School of Medicine. Last year, he was reelected to the Aboite Township Board. Previously, he finished last in the 2020 race for Southwest Allen County Schools’ 3rd District seat.
In interviews last month, the candidates spoke about their focus on neighborhoods in the 4th District. Townsend said he supports downtown development but not at the expense of other parts of the city.
“A lot of people are happy with what’s going on downtown … but they think that it’s 100% focused on downtown, rather than the neighborhoods and other areas,” he said.
Instead, Townsend wants to reexamine the use of public-private partnerships and scale back the amount of Fort Wayne’s public funds that go to private businesses.
“I think we can do it without spending so much money of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Myers also believes it’s time for the city to invest more in neighborhoods. He called for the city to establish a cabinet-level “Office of Neighborhood” position to create a “decentralized, systemic way of putting money into neighborhoods.”
Fort Wayne has outgrown its infrastructure, Myers said. But he added that the improvements needed aren’t “spicy,” including sidewalks, drainage and lights. During this year’s and his previous campaigns, Myers has spent time knocking on doors in the district.
“I know the neighborhoods,” he said. “I know where the sidewalks are broken. I know where the intersections are what I would call a death trap.”
Myers’ other top issues include a greater focus on neighborhood policing, support for mental health and addiction services, and reducing maternal and infant mortality. He said the city has great first responders but needs to more fully equip them.
Another major concern Townsend mentioned is crime, especially in Waynedale.
Myers said he’ll bring a greater “diversity of skills” to the council with his background in medicine. He also said he typically works two 24-hour shifts each week, which would give him five days off to spend in the district.
Townsend characterized himself as “definitely more conservative” than his opponent, whom he described as a “career politician.” As for what sets him apart, Townsend pointed to investments he made that he credited for building the wealth needed to buy his hotel in March 2022.
“I know how to spend money wisely and make money on money,” he said.