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Councilwoman chosen as new Fort Wayne mayor, its 1st Black leader, in caucus to replace late mayor

By AP | Apr 21, 2024

Sharon Tucker speaks at podium on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Fort Wayne, Ind. Tucker, a Democrat, becomes the first Black mayor of the northeastern Indiana city, The Journal Gazette reported, Saturday. She was elected in the second round of voting during a Democratic caucus when she met the requirement of 50% of the votes plus one.(Devan Filchak /The Journal-Gazette via AP)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A Fort Wayne city councilwoman was chosen Saturday as the new mayor of Indiana’s second most populous city, and its first Black leader, during a caucus to replace its late mayor, who died in March.

Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, a Democrat, will also become the second woman to serve as mayor of the northeastern Indiana city. She was elected in the second round of voting during a Democratic caucus when she met the requirement of 50% of the votes plus one, The Journal Gazette reported.

Derek Camp, chairman of the Allen County Democratic Party, said Tucker would be sworn in as mayor early next week. He said he would not reveal how many votes Tucker received in the caucus so that the party can unite behind Fort Wayne’s new mayor.

The local Democratic party said in a statement that it was excited to have “Mayor Tucker at the helm leading Fort Wayne into the future.”

“Today, Mayor Tucker proved that she has the energy and support of our party, and we can’t wait to support her as she works to continue moving our community forward together,” the statement adds.

Seven candidates, including Indiana Democratic House leader state Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, ran in Saturday’s party caucus, where 92 precinct committee members cast votes.

The mayor’s office became vacant when Mayor Tom Henry died March 28 after experiencing a medical emergency related to his stomach cancer. He was 72.

Henry, a Democrat, was elected in November to his fifth term as mayor of the city with about 270,000 residents. He announced his diagnosis of late-stage stomach cancer during a news conference Feb. 26 and had started chemotherapy at the beginning of March.

Tucker will serve the remainder of Henry’s mayoral term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2027, Camp said.

He said that in addition to becoming the first Black person to serve as Fort Wayne mayor, Tucker will also become its second female mayor. The first was Cosette Simon, who served 11 days as mayor in 1985 after fellow Democrat Winfield Moses resigned as part of a plea agreement involving alleged campaign finance violations.

Her term ended when Moses won a party mayoral caucus to replace himself, The Journal Gazette reported.