Stevenson, Democratic Challenger for Mayor, Draws Fire for Comments Comparing FW to Ferguson

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Mayor Tom Henry has announced recently that he's going for his third term as Mayor and now current Wayne Township Trustee, Rick Stevenson, has also announced that he's running for Mayor. Stevenson tells WOWO News he decided to throw his hat in the ring simply because he thinks he'll have more success than Mayor Tom Henry.

I think I can do a better job, and I think I can do a better job just looking at my past records. All my professional life has been pointing to this, I’ve always enjoyed working with people, from my early times to working with the Neighborhood Youth Corps, and that's providing help or employment for young people and so forth and that was constantly. Then also I worked for the Fort Wayne Community Schools. They had a pogram called SCORE, Securing Confidence on the Road to Employment. From there I was elevated to a job with the National Alliance of Businessmen and it was called Career Development and so employment happened to by my expertise at that time.”

Stevenson and Henry have worked together in the past, but now after being in office for over eight years, Stevenson says he thinks Mayor Henry has lost motivation and is not focused enough on the people of Fort Wayne.

I think he's doing other things instead of touching the people, and I believe that Fort Wayne is bigger than the downtown area, so we have to move all the people and with all the people working together, we can move Fort Wayne to a more progressive community. How do we do that? We have to be inclusive of all the people… many of our young people every year are lost because they're moving to different communities other than Fort Wayne to enhance their education and get jobs.”


Meanwhile, Stevenson, drew fire for some of the comments he made during a candidate’s forum Saturday at the Fort Wayne Urban League. During the gathering, Stevenson made a comparison of Fort Wayne to Ferguson, Missouri. Some felt that he was alluding to a disconnect between the Fort Wayne Police Department and the people of Fort Wayne with the following comments:

Yes, there is a lot of similarity to Fort Wayne and Ferguson… a few years ago, right there at the coroner of Oxford and Warsaw, the Fort Wayne police, blocked off a Hispanic. A rookie cop came up and bang bang bang, killed him; killed him dead. And the Fort Wayne Police Department was sued a measly $300,000 to this Guatemalan, which is a lot of money for a Guatemalan, but for a United States citizen it was nothing. And now here it is, just a few months ago, you read in the Journal Gazette, you read that the City of Fort Wayne is being sued, by two persons, because two persons beat up this kid for unnecessary roughness and one of the guys who beat him up is one the guys that killed the Guatemalan. The Fort Wayne Police Department needs some direction. They need to be cleaned up. How do you kill a person like that and send him back out to beat up somebody else. He (the officer) should have hit the street for unemployment.”

Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Jon Bonar says there's no merit to Stevenson's remarks. City Safety Director Rusty York called any comparison between the cities “reckless and unfortunate.''

Meanwhile, Stevenson tells WOWO news that after the meeting, he met with a group of Fort Wayne Police officers Tuesday to apologize for the comments.

I would like to reiterate that same thing that I told a group of police officers, and I told them I apologize if I have said anything that might be misconstrued that I was against the Fort Wayne Police Department. I was honestly trying to show my dissatisfaction for a specific issue on how discipline was handed out by the administration. I was actually against that discipline.”

Stevenson went on to say that he doesn't think Mayor Henry has held the Fort Wayne Police Department accountable nor does Stevenson believe that the Mayor has done a good job overseeing the Fort Wayne Police Department.

I don't think so, I don't think so and the issue that we were talking about is a perfect example…. and as a result the discipline that was carried out shows you that is was not… What did our administration do? It exalted the Chief to become Director of Safety.”