FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As Fort Wayne looks to elect its next Mayor in November, many voters are trying to understand the candidates better. On Thursday night that looked like a discussion as candidates Tom Henry and Tom Didier sat down in the historic Turner Chapel AME Church on East Jefferson Boulevard.
“We wanted to host this at the first church established by African Americans in Fort Wayne, 175 years old,” said Kenneth Christmon, the senior pastor at Turner Chapel AME Church.
The historic setting was home to a discussion on a thematic subject, the African-American Community in Fort Wayne.
“Why should we vote we as African Americans vote for you,” said Pastor Robert Bell.
The event was hosted by the Ubuntu Collaborative, and questions were based on important pillars the collaborative identified such as diversity, community and economics.
WANE 15 attended the event and recorded the answers to each question and answer from the candidates below,
- State why this specific engagement is important for you as a candidate.
- How do you define diversity, please share the importance of a mayor having a healthy perspective on diversity.
- Diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI are topics that our schools and the greater community must address, especially when there are challenges. The political landscape is full of support and opposition towards increasing the understanding of DEI. Where do you stand and what is your record of promoting DEI and understanding amongst diverse communities?
- Our city has several boards, public commissions and committees. A number of them lack racial diversity and equity, past and present. What will you do as mayor to ensure that African Americans are included in such work and how will you expand the cadre of persons who will serve?
- Economic development is a primary factor in the life of any community. What are your plans for economic investment in our community at large to continue the positive progress and spur new growth?
- Most African Americans in this community have voiced concerns about the developments and infrastructure of Southeast Fort Wayne, some improvements have been made, but there is a long way to go to catch up to the work that has been done in other areas of Fort Wayne. Why in your estimation is that the case, and what actions will you take as mayor to improve this sector of our local society?
- Innovation is defined as a process of changing and improving by introducing new methods, ideas and products. What innovative ideas do you have for Fort Wayne?
- In your opinion, what are three pressing issues facing the city of Fort Wayne at large, and what about the African-American community? What are some issues facing specifically the African American community?
- Inclusion is a critical pillar of our community, and both of you know it takes all of us to make up this community. When you hear the term inclusion and the term community, share with us how do you define inclusion, and please define community for us.
- What can African Americans expect from you as a leader in one of Indiana’s largest and most diverse cities?
- Under Fort Wayne United there are three pillars (Black Male Achievement, 10-point coalition and United Front). The United Front represents one of the nation’s best efforts to bridge social, cultural, economic and political gaps within the community. Do you think United Front should continue? And if yes, what will you do to ensure that the effort will continue in the City of Fort Wayne?