Republican Mayoral Candidates "Get Down To Business" In Initial Debate

By Maureen Mespell
By Jeff Neumeyer

March 29, 2011 Updated Mar 29, 2011 at 6:10 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fort Wayne’s main republican mayoral candidates get placed on the hot seat, in a debate seeking their stands on jobs and business.

The first organized debate in the GOP mayoral primary was set up to deal with one of the most important aspects of a mayor's job description.

There were similarities in the answers of the three contenders, but some differences as well.

The business group known as the “Leadership Forum” put this event together at Hall's Guesthouse around noon, featuring businessman Eric Doden, City Councilwoman Liz Brown and former Allen County Council President Paula Hughes.

All three were asked, if elected, how their job performance should be tracked and measured.

Brown said if she’s running the city, it’s appropriate to see if wages go up, and businesses are happier, because she believes they will face a streamlined permitting process under changes she would make.

Doden forecasts an increased number of companies locating here if he’s in charge, and says he plans to track that statistic, and whether wages rise under his direction.

Hughes says if she’s elected, citizens should expect reduced city debt, and a transformed budgeting system.

They were also asked what they'd do with the tens of millions of dollars in I & M Light Lease monies the city soon will be awash in.

Liz Brown/(R) FW Mayoral Candidate: " Use it to borrow against ourselves, in terms of funding infrastructure projects and long-term economic development projects that are sustainable, that we need."

Paula Hughes/(R) FW Mayoral Candidate: " The best financial legacy, the best legacy period, we can leave to our community is financial stability. We need to use that money to pay down the debt."

Eric Doden/® FW Mayoral Candidate: " If you pay down the debt, you're going to lose your flexibility. It should be invested by lending."

Doden has said before, we should reserve several million dollars from the light lease fund, and lend it to help along major economic development projects that otherwise might not get built.

He says the city would actually make money from such a strategy, because the money would get paid back plus interest.

More debates are scheduled between the GOP candidates who square off in the primary election May 3rd.

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