To Tell The Truth: Are Ft. Wayne's Mayoral Candidates Giving You The Real Story?

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 6, 2011 Updated Oct 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Checking the facts in the Fort Wayne Mayor's race.

There are facts and then there’s “spinning the facts”, if you will.

We looked at some of the claims Mayor Tom Henry and challenger Paula Hughes made about the other, to see if the attacks are on target or are misleading.

It’s not an exhaustive list of things, by any means.

But here are some examples.

Republican Paula Hughes makes the claim Henry is the state's highest paid mayor, and that he makes more than the governor.

At more than $124, 600 annually, he is the top paid mayor, and does in fact make more than the governor.

Hughes has pledged, if elected, to cut her own salary, but setting the mayor's wage is the job of city council, not the mayor.

In an earlier flyer, she claims under Henry’s guidance at the top of city government, Fort Wayne lost almost 14,000 jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the non-seasonally adjusted number is 13,800 for the Fort Wayne metro area.

The metro area includes Wells and Whitley Counties; meaning lost jobs in those counties are counted in the 13,800 total.

In a new flyer, Hughes charges that Henry spent over $14-million of our tax dollars to give himself a fancy new office.

It refers to the city’s purchase of the vacant Renaissance Square Building, which has been converted into the new headquarters for a variety of city and county government offices, not the mayor’s office only.

Henry's newest television ad says Hughes supported tax hikes from 2000 through 2009, or ten straight years.

Hughes didn't have any taxing authority until she started serving on Allen County Council in 2003.

She did advocate for an expensive new downtown arena as director of the Downtown Improvement District before that.

According to the Allen County Auditor, a republican, the taxes collected by Allen County government increased 3.8 percent during her eight-year tenure on county council.

Henry also disputes Hughes’ claim that the city is more than a half billion dollars in debt, citing the Journal-Gazette’s assertion that the actual debt is only about half that amount.

Hughes’ calculation included debt in city utilities, which is supported by ratepayers.

It also included police and fire pension liability.

In 2008, the General Assembly voted for the state to assume the cities’ obligations for pensions of public safety officers hired before 1977.

The Hughes camp, however, argues their numbers came from the 2010 City of Fort Wayne Comprehensive Annual Finance Report, which was certified by Mayor Henry, City Controller Pat Roller, and the State Board of Accounts.

IPFW Professor Michael Wolf says negative advertising is effective, as long as claims don't stray far from the truth.

Michael Wolf, Ph.D./IPFW Professor of Political Science: " If they really push this negativity and the facts are seen to repeatedly be wrong or stretched maybe, then they could come back and really hurt them with regard to the overall perception people have of them.”

Dr. Wolf says if you're a republican, you will tend to believe the claims made by the republican candidate, and the reverse holds true for democratic voters.

Wolf says negative political ads are often directed at independent voters, who are open minded enough to allow the content to persuade them one way or the other before entering the voting booth.

For more information about the candidates claims, click on the links provided.

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