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About Gina

“Someday, you could be Mayor.” 

 

-- Mayor Winfield Moses to a 9-year old 3rd grader named Gina , during a Girl Scout field trip to the Mayor’s Office in May, 1981.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A fiscal conservative and social moderate, Gina is a challenger of the status quo whose common sense approach to today’s problems is a fresh departure from politics as usual. She is an outspoken advocate for causes she believes in and on behalf of people who can’t advocate for themselves.  In matters of business and finance, she is practical, innovative and fiscally responsible.  Although Gina is a Democrat, her conservative fiscal policies, legal abilities, and business questions frequently cause people to confuse her for a Republican.  She humorously states that she is “The Democrat …Republicans wish they could be.”

 

Currently, Gina Burgess is a business developer who specializes in helping business that have failed or who have failed to properly launch get restarted.  Previously, she was the CEO of a company recognized by Inc. Magazine and has worked with the State of Indiana on tourism-related issues (Indiana 500 Tour), health related issues (INShape), and most recently with the Indiana Commission on Women documenting women’s political history, in preparation for Indiana’s celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote.

 

When Gina isn’t helping businesses create jobs, she engages in a variety of public service projects.  These projects include coordinating fundraisers or arranging for in-kind donations for non-profits and advocating for the rights of those who can’t advocate for themselves, especially the homeless/ transient, disabled, and disenfranchised.

 

As a one-of-a-kind candidate, Gina is a savvy entrepreneur and driven public advocate who brings a fresh perspective to the local politics-as-usual humdrum with her strong business experiences, varied education, unique small town background, and a proud historical heritage.  She is currently a member of the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) and the Anthony Wayne Lions Club.

 

 

EDUCATION

 

Gina has a Business Management degree from Trine, a Paralegal degree from Ivy Tech, and has supplemented her traditional education with more contemporary offerings, as needed.  In support of her advocacy against water fluoridation, she audited a course offered by Delft University pertaining to water management to gain a better understanding of the water treatment process and to learn more about alternative forms of water treatment.   She audited a second course by Delft University pertaining to Urban Sewage Treatment Management to gain a better understanding of the complexities facing Fort Wayne’s sewage tunnel project.   She also has a certificate of mediation training.

 

BUSINESS EXPERIENCE

 

From 2000 to current, Gina has helped develop, launch, re-launch or start-up over 900 local small businesses, including her own corporation, Recreational Rentals, Inc.

 

In 2000, Gina began her 11-year career at the Whitmore & Associates law firm, wearing many hats, including that of Office Manager and Paralegal. During her tenure as a paralegal, Gina was engaged in a wide variety of litigation experiences, including real estate transactions, small business and corporate set-ups, contracts, civil litigation and more. In 2010, she became an affiliate member of the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA). In 2011, she worked on several administrative law cases involving the Indiana Department of Revenue (IN-DOR) where Gina’s work contributed significantly to saving clients over $80,000 in fees allegedly due the IN-DOR.

  

In 2003, Gina became a member of the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) and started her own business, successfully launching Model T Bicycle Rentals in 2005. That same year, her company debuted in the 2005 “Welcome to Fort Wayne” video presented by the Greater Chamber of Commerce.

 

In 2004, she co-wrote a book with her husband, Dave, called “Discover Downtown: An Illustrated Guide to Fort Wayne, Indiana.”  It was sold in Borders Book Stores, Barnes & Nobles, and other local retail outlets.  The book later served as a model for one of the earlier versions of the Downtown Improvement District website.

 

In 2006, Model T Bicycle Rentals gained national attention by being featured in INC Magazine’s online slideshow, “Self-Made American Entrepreneurs.” In 2010, Model T Bicycle Rentals was invited by the Indiana Department of Tourism to participate in the Indiana 500 Tour (www.Indiana500Tour.com), which focused on Indiana’s motorsports and transportation heritage. Model T Bicycle Rentals was shut down in 2011 as a result of the Clinton Street/Martin Luther King Bridge renovation, followed by the 2012 for the Indiana Department of Transportation (IN-DOT) US27/Clinton Street/Spy Run Creek renovation project, and sadly, as a result of local politics.

 

PUBLIC POLICY EXPERIENCE

 

In 2011, Gina began to reinvent herself in many ways, as a public advocate (i.e. homeless rights, electoral integrity, LGBT rights of public servants, reduction of fluoridation in drinking water, etc.); as a political watchdog and fiscal hawk of local government (i.e. supporting the “No to One” county government restructuring, supporting the “No to North IV Annexation” matter, and speaking out against the creation of the City wheel tax, the increased County wheel tax, the increased State gas tax, the additional non-public safety Local Option Income Tax (LOIT)– now known as simply the Local Income Tax (LIT), etc.); and as a small business developer that helps local businesses launch, helps failing local businesses assess their options, and where feasible, assists failing local businesses relaunch.

 

Developed political “team” concept.  In 2012, Gina entered her first political race, which encompassed all of Allen County including the Cities of Fort Wayne, New Haven, Huntertown and Woodburn, and 20 Townships.  Starting from scratch, she developed a campaign team of 48 individuals, broken up into multiple specialty teams, and lead by a non-partisan steering committee.  Gina developed the political “teams” concept that is widely used by other candidate campaigns in local politics today. 

 

Advocated against pay raise for elected officials.  During the course of that initial campaign, she challenged the political establishment as it regarded giving a County elected Department Head a pay raise.  She was successful in that preliminary challenge and, although only a candidate, she was able to influence the Allen County Council to stand by then-current Indiana statute and deny the pay raise.  Gina has been an ardent and continuously outspoken believer that elected officials know what the rate of pay is when they campaign for these positions:  “If they don’t want to do the job they are campaigning for at the pre-election pay rate, then they shouldn’t be campaigning for the position to begin with.”

 

Fluoride Free Fort Wayne.  In 2013, Gina was approached by a group of citizens concerned about the amount of fluorosillicic acid (“fluoride”) in the local drinking water supply.   Despite having significant research evidence from stellar institutions, like the Harvard School of Medicine, this group of individuals were ignored by the current Administration and members of Fort Wayne City Council.  Gina helped these individuals to organize as Fluoride Free Fort Wayne and later helped them create an awareness campaign to make the issue more relevant to the average person.  To help better understand the subject, Gina studied the matter and made the discovery that local fluoride levels were nearing levels outlined in 40 CFR 141.208, which, if left uncheck, could have led to a federal notice and a “no drinking order.”  With the assistance of Fluoride Free Fort Wayne and the Allen County Health Commissioner, fluoride in Fort Wayne’s drinking water supply was lowered.

 

LBGT Rights for City Workers.  In 2014, Gina was approached by a group of City Workers concerned about spousal benefits.  The group consisted of gay firefighters who self-identified as Republicans.  At the time, some states like New York had approved same-sex marriage.  Other states, like Indiana, had not.  Same-sex couples were flocking to get married out-of-state, but upon returning to Indiana had concerns over the denial of spousal benefits.  In Fort Wayne, the problem was exacerbated by politics.  The firefighters didn’t feel comfortable going to their fellow Republicans for fear of being ostracized, but they didn’t feel any more comfortable approaching Democrats for fear of being “outed.”  Instead, they approached Gina, who handled the matter confidentially and quietly behind-the-scenes working with fellow Democrats on City Council, making sure they represented the rights and concerns of these City Workers.

 

In favor of City-County Consolidation, but not as presented in 2014.  During the summer through fall of 2014, Gina was active in the “No to One” campaign, which was an attempt to reorganize County government into a single County executive.  Although Gina agrees with the ultimate goal, she did not agree with the path being taken to reach that goal.  One of Gina’s main contentions was that people were being told they would have more local representation when they would actually have less represented.  She also didn’t like that people were being told that they were going to get more representation at a lower cost when the reality was that cost figures had never been released in support of such a statement.   The “No to One” campaign was incredibly successful, nearly 70% opposed to 30% in favor.

 

Homeless Rights.  In late 2014, Gina, and a great deal of our Community, were outraged by the City’s attempts to criminalize homeless individuals and threaten them with arrest and incarceration for trying to survive.  Gina and others reviewed a list of City Ordinances allegedly posted by FWPD in places the unsheltered street homeless were known to congregate.  None of the Ordinances listed could result in arrest and incarceration, even if violated.  This led to a further public outrage and was instrumental in getting the current Administration to begin opening winter weather warming shelters for those in need. 

 

Opposed to Downtown Arena.  In 2015 through 2017, Gina was an ardent advocate against the Downtown Arena Center/Downtown Event Center/expansion of the Grand Wayne Center project.  She cited numerous flaws with the original study commissioned by the Administration as performed and submitted by Hunden Strategic Partners.  In addition to the fact that the Study allowed the Administration to review and modify findings before making a presentation to the public, data contained within the study seemed to purposefully avoid the impact of such a project on pre-existing venues throughout Fort Wayne.   In the fall of 2017, the Administration commissioned a second Study of the project and that Study agreed with Gina’s findings. 

 

 

Opposed to Annexation.  In mid-2016, Gina was active with the “No to North IV Annexation,” which was the Administration’s efforts to artificially grow the population and increase Fort Wayne’s tax base.  Although strongly favored by Fort Wayne City Council, it was voted down.  Privately, behind-the-scenes, Gina had emailed members of Council a reminder that Paul Helmke had been voted out of office after he annexed Aboite into Fort Wayne.   The proposed annexation was voted down.

 

Opposed to Non-Public Safety Tax Increases.  In the summer of 2017, Gina was active in advocating against the 0.13 percent increase to the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT), now known as the Local Income Tax (LIT).  Despite huge community support against the increase—an increase that would impact all of Allen County—the Fort Wayne City Council, acting as the majority vote on the Allen County Tax Council, approved the income tax increase.   This came on the heels of the City voting to create a new wheel tax, which Gina advocated against and City Council passed.

 

SMALL TOWN BACKGROUND

 

Gina is the oldest of five children in a blended family. Her birth mother is a second-generation Democratic union steward and her stepfather is a second-generation Republican soldier. Kitchen table politics gave Gina a front row seat to real world, practical bread and-butter debates offered by both sides of the political spectrum, influencing her to always question the assumptions presented by both sides. This allowed her to develop her unique political perspective.

 

Gina was born in Fort Wayne, where she attended Precious Blood Catholic grade school until the second grade. Later, Gina’s family moved to a 20-acre working farm in rural DeKalb County. Life on farm exposed Gina to agriculture and livestock operations. Springs were spent prepping fields for planting. Summer gave way to harvesting a variety of crops during the week to sell on Southside Farmers Market on the weekends. Autumns were frequently spent stockpiling firewood and fuel for the winter months and butchering livestock. During the summers she spent at Southside Farmer’s Market, her family had a booth to sell crops and farm products and she had her own booth selling used books.

 

Growing up, Gina was involved in the Girl Scouts, Girls Athletic League (basketball) and 4-H, where she was one of the founding members of the DeGoats of DeKalb 4-H club. Being involved in Girl Scouts and 4-H, Gina began to develop practical life skills that would be needed later, including financial and business skills. As a Girl Scout who sold cookies, she learned the importance of networking (and that Grandmas have big networks), being able to talk to people (especially Grandmas friends), how important location is (setting up shop at places Grandmas go), supply and demand (you can’t sell cookies if you don’t have any to sell….unless you take “advance” orders), the sales process (and how important knowing your product will satisfy a would-be customers sweet tooth) , creative up-selling (Thin Mint “pizzas” anyone), and that there is no substitute for great customer service.

 

As a member of the DeKalb Middle School “Lady Patriots” girls basketball team, Gina played the position of Center.  Her coach encouraged all the girls to learn all positions, frequently changing up roles.   All “ladies” were taught to be team players and individual drivers, or Game Changers.  Scrimmaging with the boys was common, something the boys hated.  The lesson taught was that girls could be just as good as boys and that all was fair in love, war, and basketball.  Playing against the boys made the girls team unstoppable and helped cultivate Champions.

 

As a 4-H member, Gina really got an education on what it means to develop and take a product to market. Her 4-H projects consisted of animals and she learned about the impact that fixed overhead costs (i.e. housing/storage, feed, water, electricity and vet/health care) had on the bottom line of a farming operation and how important those costs were in setting a market price. It was also here that Gina learned how to maximize the return on investment. For a 4-H project, the initial investment was the cost to purchase the animal and to maximize the ROI. A farmer has to develop multiple streams of income. For a goat, those streams of income could be: selling milk, meat, and mohair; offering breeding services and first right of litter; taking care of other people’s goats; training other people’s goats; and showing and/or judging other people’s goats at local county fairs.

 

As a teen, while still living in Auburn, Gina attended Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, where she graduated with the Class of 1990. Although an underclassman, she was “adopted” by and treated as a member of the Class of 1988, the class of her high school sweetheart and husband of 24 years, David. While at Dwenger, Gina was active with The Golden Trumpet, the school newspaper.   She also took on special projects. One such project was the Hurricane Hugo Disaster Relief effort, which allowed Gina to coordinate a variety of fundraising and food drive events and coordinate with other local agencies, such as North American Van Lines, to send food, school supplies and other aid directly to Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina. This project earned her a nomination for the News-Sentinel’s 1990 Sterling Sentinel Business Award.

 

 

After high school, Gina pursued a Paralegal Degree from Ivy Tech and a Political Science degree from IPFW. As an Ivy Tech Student, Gina graduated with the first class of paralegals from Ivy Tech and was instrumental in making sure that the paralegal program, under the direction of Department Chair Bob Colestock, was an A.S. degreed program and not an A.A.S. program, which was typical for Ivy Tech in 2005. As an IPFW student, Gina was involved with a variety of student organizations and was named the 1997 Student Leader of the Year

 

FAMILY TIES AND HISTORICAL HERITAGE

 

Gina is the great great granddaughter of Charles and Ellen Gerardot, a large well-known farming family who settled in Monroeville during the 1800s. There Gerardots had eleven children, including Gina’s great grandmother, Marcella. Marcella Gerardot married Ferdinand Spieth and they had twelve children, including Gina’s grandfather, Walter. Walter was a proud UAW member who worked for International Harvester, except for the time he spent picketing during the UAW Strike of 1979-1980. After the Strike, he continued working for Harvester where he returned to the line until the last International Harvester Scout was manufactured in Fort Wayne. Gerardot Road is named after the Gerardot family and it traverses through Madison and Jefferson Townships.

 

Gina’s husband, Dave, is a third-generation military man, serving in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Guam during the first Persian Gulf War. His father served in the Marines, his mother served in the Navy and his grandfather served in the Army during WWII, eventually becoming a POW who was later released.

 

Dave is an Ivy Tech grad with an automotive degree, who had been employed in the automotive industry for over three decades.  He is currently an assembly man at the local General Motors plant.  Previously, he had been a member of GM’s management team.  He holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Trine University as well as an MBA with finance majors.

 

Dave is believed to be a descendent of Henry Burgess the founder of New Haven and business partner of Samuel Hanna, Peter Heller, B.S. Woodworth, and Herman H. Nierman, who founded Stone Brewery & Malt House. Stone Brewery was located at the corner of Water Street and Harrison Streets in Downtown Fort Wayne. Two streets are named after the Burgess family, Burgess Street in Fort Wayne and Eben Street in New Haven. Eben Burgess was Henry Burgess’ father and the owner of the land transferred to Henry that later became New Haven.

 

The Burgess Family is believed to be descendants of the Virginia Burgesses, of the House of Burgess.


Committee to Elect Gina Burgess d/b/a VOTE GINA BURGESS
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