Light Lease Debate Takes Center Stage In Republican Mayoral Race

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

March 10, 2011 Updated Dec 5, 2013 at 2:17 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Three republican candidates, three visions for how to tackle the hot button issue of the 2011 Fort Wayne mayor's race.

Liz Brown, Paula Hughes and Eric Doden talked Thursday about their different ideas for how to use the pot of money called the I & M light lease dollars.

Businessman Eric Doden this day put on his education hat.

Doden would like to borrow an idea from Kalamazoo Michigan, taking a portion of the light lease monies to set up an education endowment.

Proceeds from the endowment could benefit qualifying Fort Wayne Community Schools students with bigger dreams.

Eric Doden/(R) Fort Wayne Mayoral Candidate: " They get a college education at a state university fully paid for, so we're kind of excited about that potential opportunity."

Jeff Neumeyer: " 60 minutes later, three blocks to the north, City Councilwoman Liz Brown- also running for mayor- unveiled what she'd like to do with the I & M money."

Brown proposes that a portion of the tens of millions of dollars from the light lease settlement be used to create an internal revolving loan fund that would help the city do economic development projects without taking out traditional loans that need to be paid back with interest.

But Brown insists priority one is turning the funds into a savings account.

Liz Brown/(R) Fort Wayne Mayoral Candidate: " I recognize the natural tendency to spend a windfall, which is exactly why 70% of lottery winners become bankrupt.”

Meanwhile, former county council woman Paula Hughes got the scissors out, pledging, if elected, to use light lease funds to try and cut the city's long-term debt by 24 percent by the end of her first term in office.

Paula Hughes/(R) Fort Wayne Mayoral Candidate: " No, it won't be easy, but it's also very achievable. I believe that being a financially sound community is the foundation for everything else that we want to do."

Hughes criticized Brown for changing her light lease position three times.

The candidate who can gain the public's confidence on the issue might well be celebrating the party's nomination on May 3rd.

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