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Winning is primarily a family affair in township


– St. Joseph Township voters went with consistency in Tuesday’s Republican primary election, keeping the Uhrick family at the helm.

Sarah Gnagy, daughter of retiring Township Trustee Richard Uhrick and current Township Board president, won the trustee nomination handily, taking 40 percent of the vote in a four-way race, according to unofficial results. Uhrick’s wife, Jean Uhrick, the current clerk, won a seat on the three-member township board.

“We’re all tired, but it’s a good tired,” Gnagy said Wednesday. “We did a lot of work. We knocked on a bunch of doors, we talked to a bunch of people. I’m pleased people heard my message and then came out and supported me.”

Gnagy faced Edward Morris, Kenneth Richardson and fellow township board member Barry Kunkle.

In recent years, Richard Uhrick angered firefighters when he began downsizing the township fire department and selling off equipment. A year ago, the board disbanded the 60-year-old department altogether, replacing it with contracted EMS services from Three Rivers Ambulance Authority and the new St. Joseph Fire Rescue Corp., which is under the control of the trustee.

Kunkle, the only board member to vote against the changes, came in second to Gnagy, with 21 percent of the vote. Richardson and Morris took 20 percent and 19 percent of the vote, respectively.

When the township department was created, it served about 40,000 residents in a 10-square-mile area. But Fort Wayne has annexed much of that area, and now the fire department serves about 5,500 residents.

Gnagy said voters did not see the election as a referendum on the changes.

“It barely came up. That whole issue only affected 5,000 people when we have 72,000 in the township,” Gnagy said. “They’re happy with TRAA, they’re happy with the St. Joseph Fire Rescue Corp., the new department. It really wasn’t an issue.”

Gnagy said the issue came up just a handful of times when talking to voters, and when it did, it was because they were happy with how smoothly things were going.

With Gnagy and Kunkle running for trustee and Greg Sult not seeking re-election, all three township board seats were up for grabs, and Jean Uhrick was joined by six others in the pick-three race.

She was the top vote-getter with 16.6 percent of the vote, followed by John S. McKay at 16.5 percent and Joel V. Flaningan at 16.3 percent. Their opponents all had 14.5 percent or less.

No Democrats sought the trustee nomination, and only Democrat Patrick B. Murphy ran for township board.