FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Republican mayoral candidate Tom Didier held a press conference Thursday morning to lay out his vision for Fort Wayne in response to Mayor Tom Henry’s announcement he is running for re-election.

Didier admitted he was surprised by Henry’s announcement he made on Wednesday. According to Didier, Henry has told him a handful of times that he wouldn’t be running again.

In response to Henry’s comments that now isn’t the time for a leader who doesn’t have experience, Didier told reporters that he has gained plenty of experience engaging with people and voting on tough issues on city council during his 19 years.

Didier added that his five terms on council match the exact same experience Henry had when he was elected mayor in 2007.

“I want to make Fort Wayne great. I want to put it first,” Didier said.

Didier believes it’s time for fresh, new ideas from the city’s leader.

He says his decades of experience in sales have taught him how to innovate and constantly seek improvement.

His plans for the city include involving city council and neighborhood associations more in improvement decisions. 

According to Didier, Mayor Henry hasn’t collaborated with city council for the majority of his time as mayor until that changed just recently.

An example of that change: Didier said he was called by people who work for the mayor and was asked to travel down to the statehouse to assist in getting a bill passed that would change the way Fort Wayne selects its solid waste hauler.

Didier sees himself as someone who can listen to and work with everyone. He wants input from various neighborhoods on how to better their area.

“They need to be involved. I need all 260,000 people in Fort Wayne involved,” Didier said. “It’s not just about Tom Didier. It’s not about me. I’m not running for office because Tom Didier wants to be mayor. I’m running for office because Tom Didier wants to make a difference. You know? Tom Didier wants to include everyone.”

On top of engaging more with citizens, Didier hopes to find new ways to attract young people to Fort Wayne and to retain youth considering moving away.

In the months leading up to next year’s elections, Didier hopes to run a positive campaign that doesn’t involve negativity toward Henry.

“I do not want to make this contest a personality conflict because the people of Fort Wayne are tired of negative campaigns,” Didier said.