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May 14, 2024 | Three things to know about Allen County's primary election results

May 14, 2024 | Three things to know about Allen County's primary election results

Hey Locals,

Trumpism, Super PACs and low voter turnout, oh my! Indiana's primary election results are in, and most of them aren't for the moderately minded (surprise, surprise). But locally, the race for three Allen County Council seats should be interesting to watch, and yes, it has been influenced by recent controversy with the Allen County Jail.

In other local news: Farmers market season is officially here. The Barr Street Market is in full swing, and Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market is moving Electric Works (permanently) this weekend. We answer a reader's question about what's next.

We also share details on the Fort Wayne area's growing sports scene with two big developments underway and the city's first Power of Tourism and Hospitality awards, recognizing "unsung heroes" at local restaurants, hotels and more.

Don't forget: In May, we're also partnering with GK Cafe & Provisions to bring all paid subscribers one of their sinfully delicious Cinny Rolls for FREE. We give our paid members a freebie every month at a local business to cover the cost of membership. See what the paid membership is all about with this 30-day trial and you can get a Cinny Roll too!

Our newsletter this month is brought to you by Visit Fort Wayne and our paid subscribers.

Now, let's get started!

NOTE: Links to Journal Gazette articles are marked(*) and may be behind a paywall.

Allen County's Primary Election results are in.

We roundup a few of the top takeaways making headlines.

What's happening?

A dismal 16.6% of Allen County’s 277,823 registered voters determined the ballot for this November's general election.

Three quick results to know?

  • Trump-endorsed U.S. Sen. Mike Braun easily swept what should have been a highly competitive Republican bid for Indiana governor. Indy Star columnist James Briggs called the "lifeless race" a "warning sign," leading Indiana Republicans to a "dangerous place." Braun is likely to replace the moderate Gov. Eric Holcomb this fall (also Republican). Among other effects, The JG notes* Braun's election could lead to a costly and polluting regression to coal-fueled energy policies at a "critical juncture" in Indiana's transition to renewable energy.
  • There was an extremely expensive and Super PAC-wrought Republican primary for Indiana's 3rd District Congressional seat left by Jim Banks. In fact, it was the nation’s eighth-most expensive congressional race at $3.8 million in total campaign contributions with powerful and unrestricted Super PACs attempting to sway votes. Marlin Stutzman came out as the top candidate of eight, although Tim Smith was the highest vote-getter in Allen County. Stutzman will face Democrat Kiley Adolph in November. Banks ran unopposed in the GOP primary for Indiana's senate seat, which also racked up "shocking" Super PAC spending. He will face Democrat Valerie McCray in November, who made history as the state's first Black female nominee for U.S. Senate in Indiana.
  • More locally: Allen County Council might have new Democratic and female representation. Currently, the council is entirely Republican and male. But two female candidates (Nena Bailey and Stephanie Henry) were the top Democratic vote-getters, prompting Bailey's speech that “women are taking over." Kevin Hunter was also elected on the Democratic ballot. "All three candidates mentioned concerns about the Allen County Jail project and incarceration," The JG* notes. In November's general election, these Democrats will face three Republicans for three (total) at-large seats on council. Republican candidates are incumbents Ken Fries and Bob Armstrong and newcomer Lindsey Hammond. East Allen County Schools Board Member, Republican Ron Turpin, also beat fellow Republican Thomas Harris to replace Nelson Peters as one of three Allen County Commissioners this fall. Peters is retiring – marking the first time this seat had an open Republican primary in a whopping 20 years. Turpin was endorsed by New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael and is currently unopposed.

Why it Matters

Primary races determine which candidates are on the ballot for general elections, and even though this year's primary had some of the "most competitive" races Indiana has seen in a while, voter turnout was still "exceptionally low.” We break down three factors we see keeping voters from the polls in our premium newsletter.

  • Fort Wayne's sports scene is poised to grow as a multipurpose soccer complex on Bass Road earns approval and another huge project progresses in New Haven. Allen County commissioners approved BND Commercial's petition to rezone 6411 and 6237 Bass Road,* across from Buckner Park, for a 32-acre multipurpose complex for youth to professional soccer games, as well as multiple sports year-round (indoor and outdoor). It will start with 1,500-2,500 seats and grow to 7,500. In New Haven, another 150-acre youth sports project is underway that WANE 15 calls "a small city" with retail, restaurants, entertainment, medical facilities and luxury multi-family residential. The project is expected to yield $50 million in economic impact and will have "a spiritual twist" in partnership with Grace Gathering Church in New Haven, which is providing much of the land. Other partners include Card & Associates and a silent partner. Construction is expected to finish by early 2026, and developers hint a Top Golf-type facility could be in Northeast Indiana's future, too.
  • Accessibility (and transportation) took center stage at the first annual Power of Tourism and Hospitality Awards hosted by Visit Fort Wayne (VFW). Last week, the awards recognized "unsung heroes" in the local hospitality scene, as part of efforts to support the industry outlined in VFW's Tourism Master Plan, which sets 20 priorities for the 10 years. Also topping the list is increasing accessibility in Fort Wayne, which includes making the city more inclusive to people of all abilities. Keynote speaker at the award ceremony was John Morris, the wheelchair-bound founder of the world's largest accessible travel website. Morris found it "fairly easy" to navigate Downtown and its attractions in his power chair, but noted that transportation to and from the airport is still challenging for wheelchair users, who cannot use traditional taxis or rideshare apps. Morris calls transportation the "biggest barrier"* for disabled travelers, who represent a large underserved minority. Learn more in our full story, as part of our partnership with VFW this month.

Plus: an update on Google data center tax revenues, 46 neighborhood improvement grants, a new indoor action park and more. Read all about it in our premium newsletter.

What's the future of Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market at Electric Works?

We answer a reader question and get to know the market's new management.

Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market opens in Dynamo Alley at Electric Works this Saturday, May 18, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

What's happening?

A few weeks ago, Ft. Wayne Farmers Market announced it was permanently moving to Electric Works and its longtime leader Leigh Rowan, who founded the market in October 2012, was retiring. A reader and market vendor reached out to us with a question about what's next for the market now that will be fully owned by Electric Works this fall.

We interviewed Rowan and the market's new leadership Ermin Husidic to find out.

A few quick things to know...

  • The farmers market opens 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday in Dynamo Alley. Last year, Husidic says more than 5,000 people came to campus that day, so prepare for crowds.
  • Farmers and farm fresh goods will remain the focus. Rowan developed Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market with a ratio of at least 80% farm food and natural products. Husidic says they intend to maintain her standards and support farmers year-round.
  • The winter market will stay at Electric Works. While Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market has had many locations for its indoor market in the past, it's making its permanent home at Electric Works with an indoor location on campus (TBA) this fall.
  • Any changes this summer? Husidic says his team is learning from Rowan this summer as they make the transition, and guests shouldn't notice any changes. But there is a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is underway for Electric Works (similar to the one already in operation Downtown). Watch for announcements about the DORA at Electric Works coming soon!

Learn more in our full story.

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Have a great week, Locals!

-Your Editor, Kara Hackett