Henry Ignores Hughes At IPFW Mayoral Debate

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

November 1, 2011 Updated Nov 1, 2011 at 11:20 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- The Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayoral candidates participated in a debate Tuesday night at IPFW.

A sparring match was expected Tuesday night.

But one candidate decided not to acknowledge one of his opponent.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said he already knew where Republican Candidate Paula Hughes stood so he decided to use his follow up questions to engaged Independent Candidate Haley Ahrendt.

About 150 people attended the debate which was sponsored by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics and held on the campus of IPFW.

Topics ranged from negative ads, to how each candidate would spend the legacy light lease money, to what type of bold 21st century investments would they make if they were Mayor.

When it came to the topic of bold ideas, none of the candidates directly answered the question.

When the same question was asked a second time, Candidate Hughes said Fort Wayne needed more opportunities for higher education.

Mayor Henry countered that he is already working on creating synergy between local employers and schools, so that local universities are offering the proper degrees.

Candidate Ahrendt said his bold investment would be personally helping struggling small businesses.

"It's a very aggressive sometimes contentious campaign, I realize that. Desperate people do desperate things and I knew that might be coming so I was prepared for that," said Fort Wayne Mayor Democrat Tom Henry, who is running for re-election.

"I'm very hands on. We heard from the Mayor tonight that he delegates things," said Fort Wayne Republican Candidate Paula Hughes, while explained the difference between her and Mayor Henry.

"He gave things off to his consultants, to his team. I'm going to be hands on. I think Fort Wayne deserves a mayor who is hands on. We've got to get Fort Wayne working again," continued Hughes.

"Both sides have collected a million dollars. So clearly I am the only one who can stand up here and say, 'I collected zero money'. I owe nobody a favor. Not one. They do. Both of them do," said Fort Wayne Independent Candidate Haley Ahrendt.

Indiana's NewsCenter will air a special one hour edition of Political Radar Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on 21 Alive.

Melissa Long will moderate live interviews with Republican Paula Hughes and Independent Haley Ahrendt.

Democrat Tom Henry declined our offer to appear on the show.

We will also break down the 2nd District Fort Wayne City Council race, which is expected to be one of the toughest races on the Tuesday, November 8th ballot.

Meanwhile, Indiana's NewsCenter has attached our full interviews that were conducted after Tuesday's night debate at IPFW.

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