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County Council: Gwen Sordelet

Unique experience asset in District 3 race


County Council holds Allen County’s purse strings, so it’s vital that voters choose a candidate who understands the gravity of that responsibility. It’s also important that voters choose someone who knows something about county government.

Fortunately, such a candidate is running in the Republican primary for the Council District 3 nomination.

Gwen Sordelet, 57, a chief deputy of the Allen County Board of Voter Registration, offers voters a mix of common sense and caring that make her stand out in a five-person race.

Joel Benz, 33, a city paramedic, is another strong candidate. He’s also a small-business owner who wants to encourage entrepreneurs in the private sector, believes county government could be more efficient and would motivate employees through merit pay.

Tom Rotering, 43, an investigator for the Fort Wayne Fire Department, is a well-spoken proponent of small government.

Gary Washington, 56, a chiropractor, served as a trustee for a township in Coloma, Mich., and for Cedar Creek Township. He believes he could be the council’s “conservative voice.”

Travis Armstrong, 22, works in private security. His father, Robert Armstrong, is on the council. Travis Armstrong acknowledges the job would involve a learning curve for him but argues that the council would benefit from a younger voice.

Even in an era when “government spending” is a dirty phrase, Sordelet has more than the usual passion for streamlining government and saving money.

“I’ve raised a daughter single-handedly, sent her to private school. I’m a breast-cancer survivor, became diabetic after losing a baby.

“If I can budget (on the council) like I had to budget with all the obstacles that were thrown at me …”

Indeed, frugality is not a new concept for Sordelet. In 1995, she was one of three women The Journal Gazette profiled as super-shoppers.

Sordelet told of how, before the birth of her daughter, she made the rounds of area Hook’s drugstores, where normally $14 packs of disposable diapers were on sale for $4.

She bought each store out and then made use of the $4 rebate coupons that came with each package. That “free” diaper supply lasted almost until her daughter was potty-trained.

Life experience is not always enough for public office, but Sordelet’s eight years of experience in county government have given her a sense of what the council deals with. She’s also worked in private business and is active in fundraising for good causes. (To avoid conflicts of interest, she says she would quit her job at voter registration if she’s elected.)

“I just would like to get my hands around the budget and see what I can do.”

Sordelet might bring a different perspective to the currently all-male council.

We had planned to endorse in the District 1 council race as well, but neither of the candidates, incumbent Kevin Howell and Joe (Fluoride Man) Renner, joined us for an interview.

Howell is a former Marine and teacher who last year was named a constituent representative for U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman. Renner is an outspoken advocate for removing fluoride from Fort Wayne’s water.