FORT WAYNE – The race to represent Allen County Council’s 1st District pits a challenger against a first-term incumbent in the May 6 Republican primary.
Incumbent Kevin Howell, 59, is being challenged by Joe (Fluoride Man) Renner, 39. Sharon Tucker is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
District 1 covers the southeast quadrant of the county.
Howell was elected in 2010, defeating incumbent Democrat Maye Johnson.
Howell served in the Marine Corps from 1983 to 1993. Since then, he has taught in Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen County Schools and Whitley County Consolidated Schools and has run unsuccessfully for state representative and Fort Wayne City Council. He is a graduate of Elmhurst High School and Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Howell said the biggest issue facing the council is holding the line on spending.
We’re very fortunate that we have a surplus, Howell said. That has really afforded us the option of not raising taxes and user fees. I’m very strong on keeping a surplus.
He said he is most proud of the council not increasing taxes and user fees, although the council has raised property taxes the maximum allowed by law every year, a move Howell supported.
When asked how he could say he was proud of not raising taxes when he had in fact voted to raise taxes, Howell said the council had no choice.
The bigger issue there is we had to do that, we had to, to keep up with inflation, Howell said. If we did not do that, we would have had to go to the rainy day fund and use up the surplus. So it’s a trade-off.
Howell said he is strongly opposed to changing the format of county government to a single county executive, which voters will decide on in the fall, and opposes consolidating the New Haven 911 call center into the combined city-county 911 agency.
Renner is a full-time business student at Ivy Tech Community College. He is also president of the nonprofit group Fluoride Free Fort Wayne, which advocates against fluoridation of city water.
Renner said Howell has done nothing on the council and needs to be replaced, an assertion Howell disputed.
He hasn’t even attempted to speak. He’s not addressed any issues at all, Renner said. He sits there, votes with the majority and leaves. I think he’s basically there to collect a paycheck.
Renner said the issue is jobs.
It seems like this district has been redlined, Renner said.
Instead of giving tax phase-ins to international businesses like Vera Bradley, we should be giving them to local businesses here in this district, to the entrepreneurs who set up shop here – they’re the true job creators, he said.
Renner recently posted an entry on his Facebook page opposing the Army moving Apache attack helicopters from National Guard units to Army units and replacing them with Black Hawks.
This significantly weakens the States’ ability to defend themselves if the Federal Government decides to take hostile action toward any individual State, and weakens the ability of The People to defend themselves, Renner wrote.
When asked whether he believes the state of Indiana needs to arm itself against the federal government, he said not necessarily.
That’s not really an issue as far as my campaign goes, but I’m a believer of states’ rights over federal rights, Renner said. I think the federal government is already encroaching on the rights of the state.
He has also posted recently that he believes surveillance drones are being flown from the Fort Wayne airport; that Paying taxes to a corrupt government is not patriotic; it is slavery; and that returning liberty to the United States will not be easy, nor will it be victimless but We together can do it.
He said his focus is on the 1st District and the need for infrastructure and jobs there while eliminating waste from county government.