Patti Hays is remarkably upbeat and positive this fall, particularly for a Democratic challenger to an incumbent who holds what is considered a “safe” Republican seat.
Hays, who's running against City Councilman Jason Arp in the Fourth District, even found something positive to say about her opponent, noting that Arp has sometimes made good decisions. But an optimist sometimes has to call out negativity.
“I feel the current incumbent's activities have demonstrated to me a sense of, his mind's made up: 'Fine – go ahead and give me your opinion. It's not going to change my mind, but I'll listen to you,' ” Hays said. “It's discouraging to have my councilman – because he still is my representative – consistently just take pride in saying, 'I voted no.' ”
Arp's minimum-government philosophy has led him to oppose projects that have wide public support and bipartisan backing on the council. He has voted against almost all tax incentives for new and expanding businesses and has opposed public funding for Electric Works and Promenade Park.
The councilman did not respond to several messages inviting him to meet with the editorial board this fall. In a conversation with the editorial board before last spring's primary election, Arp explained his opposition to tax incentives and public-private partnerships. “Most people understand intuitively that there's something wrong with having the government involved with planning what buildings get built and what buildings don't get built,” he said.
Too often these days, elected leaders appear to represent only the people who share their philosophy. If elected, Hays would aspire to a much different approach.
Hays supports economic development efforts and is determined to get help for infrastructure problems in her district. Noting that Waynedale residents have tried without success to get a sidewalk along Lower Huntington Road, she said, “We need to get people to understand that they do have the power to make a difference.” But Hays is reluctant to tie herself to fixed solutions to many contentious issues until after she wins office. Instead, her experience in community service has led Hays to approach decision-making by relying on questions, analysis and input from constituents. “I have an open mind to issues, a receptiveness of differing opinions,” Hays told our board.
Though she's not held elective office, Hays has long served the community in a variety of roles. She is CEO of AWS Foundation, whose mission is aiding those with intellectual and physical disabilities, and she serves on the Allen County Department of Health Executive Board. Last December, Hays and the three other founders of Advancing Voices for Women were named The Journal Gazette's citizens of the year.
Her values were also shaped by her career as a nurse – something she mentions often to voters as she campaigns door to door and tries to get non-Democrat residents to see her as someone they would be comfortable supporting. “Nurses are trusted, they're caring, they're compassionate, they're non-judgmental,” Hays said.
Hays is one of four women on the ballot this fall who could bring gender diversity to the all-male council. She would be a councilwoman who would concentrate on what's best for the Fourth District and Fort Wayne instead of what fits preconceived positions.
We endorse Patti Hays.