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Smith, Crawford discuss issues in first mayoral debate

Two Republican candidates for Fort Wayne mayor agreed on many issues discussed in the first primary debate Thursday.

Posted: Mar. 7, 2019 10:40 PM
Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 10:41 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Two Republican candidates for Fort Wayne mayor agreed on many issues discussed in the first primary debate Thursday.

In fact, the only real trash talking was about the poor trash collection in the city.

"I will take 10 percent of the blame on that," said councilman John Crawford.

Crawford accepted part of the blame for what he calls a "terrible" contract with Red River Waste Solutions to pick up residential trash and recycling.

Crawford voted in favor of the contract in 2017, along with every other city council member.

"The Red River contract has been a disaster and an embarrassment for the city of Fort Wayne," said Crawford.

Red River began collecting trash in Fort Wayne in January 2018.

It took about 11 months and more than $1 million in fines before complaints from residents dropped significantly.

Crawford said if he is elected mayor, more people will be involved in contract negotiations.

"As part of that, I would involve city council early on in the negotiations of major contracts," said Crawford.

Crawford's opponent Tim Smith said he will make sure simple terms are defined in every contract he negotiates.

"The representative from Red River actually said abandonment. "We have to abandon the contract to be in material breach because there is no definition of material breach,'" said Smith.

Smith, a businessman, said that experience will help him if he is elected mayor.

"I deal with contracts on a regular basis. Seven figure contracts, eight figure contracts. Negotiating contracts is easy in concept, difficult in practice," Smith said.

Smith and Crawford also agreed Fort Wayne has a problem with crime.

Last year while overall crime was down in the Summit City, violent crime was up.

Smith said he would help cut that down without spending more money by getting more officers out from desks and on the street.

"Officers park their cars, get out, walk the beat the old fashioned way. Develop relationships with the local businesses, with the local residents," he said.

Meanwhile, Crawford would want to put more money toward the police department.

He said much of that would go toward raising wages to attract more recruits.

Crawford would also like to spend more money on technology.

"High tech is a big thing in my mind. High tech surveillance cameras and other things have been used in other cities," Crawford said.

Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana hosted Thursday's event.

YLNI said the third Republican candidate, David Roach, wasn't invited because of past comments he made about the group.

Organizers said they won't host a Democratic debate for the mayoral primary because Mayor Tom Henry declined an invitation.

Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana is not affiliated with any political party or candidate.

The Indiana Primary Election is May 7.

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