FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Current mayor and democrat Tom Henry announced Wednesday he will run for a historic fifth term as Fort Wayne’s mayor.
He joins republican city councilman Tom Didier as the only candidates who have announced campaigns to run for their party’s nomination next May.
The deadline to launch an official campaign doesn’t come until next February, but voters could possibly already know who will be on their ballots in November of 2023.
Henry’s political success is evident, shown by his long tenures on Fort Wayne City Council, and then as the city’s longest-serving mayor.
Didier is the last person to hand Henry a political loss when he won the 3rd district seat on city council back in 2003.
The Henry and Didier names are well-known in Fort Wayne and both have long track records of voting on local issues that impact residents on a day-to-day basis.
“The voters are going to be asked to think about ‘Do you like where we are? Do you like how we got here? Do you like where we want to go, or where he wants us to go, and do I want to give him that chance?,’ that’s what the voters are going to have to do,” Andy Downs said.
Downs is the director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics and a teaches political science courses at Purdue Fort Wayne.
He says a rematch like the one we could see between Didier and Henry, if they go against each other again, would generally benefit the incumbent, but Downs notes that this race would be for a different office and changes things a bit.
Of course, one topic that can be debated between the two candidates is the handling of Fort Wayne’s outgoing trash and recycling hauler Red River.
Downs reminds us that both Henry and Didier share some of the blame because the mayor, along with Didier and the rest of city council, had to approve the Red River contract.
Didier was outspoken on how the administration handled Red River early in 2021 as missed and delayed pickups for both trash and recycling were adding up.
Downs said while the mayor can say the city’s administration had to operate within the limits set by the contract with Red River, it’s a topic people won’t forget about and will have to decide who should be blamed more.
Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine told WANE 15 that Didier is the presumptive nominee for mayor in the Republican party.
Shine believes Didier has a great chance of being the candidate to unseat Henry after four straight victories.
“He has a deep, deep knowledge of city affairs, he has great connections with the neighborhoods, not just the third district, but all neighborhoods,” Shine said. “He knows how city government runs. And because he has a record, he will be judged by his record, and it’s one that he and citizens around Fort Wayne can be very proud of.”
Shine told WANE 15 that voters need to remember Didier’s dedication to taking care of neighborhoods while the Henry administration has spent more time focusing on downtown development.
He also believes voters should take note that Didier fully backed the Electric Works project right away while residents of the West Central neighborhood posted signs in their yards in 2018 asking for more support from Mayor Henry.
After his announcement Wednesday night, Mayor Henry said live on WANE 15’s First at Five that he looks forward to the potential competition of facing Didier again.
Didier released a statement which can be read here. The councilman will also hold a press conference Thursday morning.