The presidential primary election is still more than a year away, but locally, the Fort Wayne mayoral primary is quickly approaching.
A sure sign of that is the first 2019 debate.
Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana will host a Republican mayoral candidates primary debate Thursday night.
Tim Smith and John Crawford will face off for the first time since filing for the 2019 race.
The candidates will have 20 minutes to introduce themselves, then there will be about 40 minutes left for questions in a town hall style debate.
Crawford is now in his fifth term as a Fort Wayne City Council member. He currently also serves as council president.
Smith is a well-known businessman and insurance executive at MedPro. He also previously managed the re-election campaign for former Mayor Paul Helmke in 1991.
Both candidates list issues related to economic development and public safety as items on their platforms.
Smith also adds education and higher wages to his platform, while Crawford maintains a focus on the opioid crisis and public health.
David Roach is also on the Republican primary ticket, but he was not invited to participate in Thursday’s debate.
Tommy Schrader, Gina Burgess, and current Mayor Tom Henry will face off on the Democratic side.
Henry is in his third term as Fort Wayne Mayor. He first took office in 2008.
It’s not clear if or when there will be a debate among the Democratic candidates.
Thursday’s GOP debate between Crawford and Smith will begin at 7 p.m. The event at Arts United is already sold out, but organizers said they hope to stream it online.
The primary election will happen on May 7. The winners from each party will then face off in the general election on November 5.