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Crawford Outlines Priorities For 2019 Mayoral Campaign

Zach Bernard/WBOI News

Fort Wayne Councilman John Crawford outlined his mayoral platform, as he prepares his campaign for the 2019 municipal election season.

Crawford officially announced his candidacy Tuesday morning at the Allen County GOP Headquarters, having informally done so at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner on April 23.

His sharpest critique of Mayor Tom Henry’s administration came on the subject of Electric Works, which he calls “perhaps the greatest economic development project the city has ever seen.” He says he doesn’t want to see it become a political issue.

“If the mayor is going to continue to slow-walk it, and continue to perhaps put people on boards that might also not be favorable to it and we do manage to lose that project, it will definitely become a political issue,” Crawford said.

Economic development is one of five areas of focus for his campaign; the other four highlight fiscal responsibility, opiate use reduction, crime and collaboration with other elected officials.

Crawford wants a zero-based annual budget, essentially proposing the city do its budgeting from scratch. He proposes increasing and reducing funding for programs and agencies annually as needed, saying City Council’s efforts to eliminate collective bargaining and enact a pay-to-play ordinance “have already saved money.”

In regards to the opioid epidemic, he says Fort Wayne’s approach should be an increase in treatment options, and that the city should be a leader for the rest of the state.

“Doctors should only use opiates as a last resort to pain,” he said. “Treatment programs need to offer more medication-assisted treatment, where we actually give somebody other drugs so they will not take more dangerous drugs.”

Crawford linked the city’s number of homicides in part to the opioid epidemic, noting that treating addiction could play a role in bringing some crime numbers down, as well.

He said the biggest problem related to unsolved homicides is when witnesses don’t come forward, and that the city and police department could work together to create safer ways for witnesses to report crimes.

“We should provide more witness protection to reduce fear,” he said. “Without witnesses coming forward, the police and prosecutors will have great difficulty bringing these killers to justice.”

On collaboration, Crawford says Fort Wayne “is not an island,” and that the city must improve its working relationships with other government entities, and used Allen County as an example.

“We are all on the same team, we all want Fort Wayne to succeed,” he said. “Sometimes we disagree on the best strategy, but we need to find better ways to collaborate and get things done.”

While many of his platforms are aimed directly at Henry’s current leadership, Crawford still has to win what could be a challenging primary. So how does he plan to set himself apart from other potential candidates?

“I guess experience and leadership will be one of the keys. I’ve been there, done that for 20 years, I know how the city works,” he said.

“I’ll probably emphasize the more fiscal conservative part of what leadership in Fort Wayne is looking for.”

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.