has served as President of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s largest national, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, since mid-July 2006. Prior to this, Helmke was a lawyer in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he served as mayor from 1988-2000.
Helmke was President of the United States Conference of Mayors in 1997-1998 and was a Board member for the National League of Cities. He is a past-President of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and of both the national and Indiana Republican Mayors and Local Officials organizations. Helmke was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Indiana in 1998.
Helmke served on the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services’ “Violence Against Women Advisory Council” and on the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education’s “Advisory Council for School-to-Work Opportunities” and worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on special projects.
After upsetting a two-term incumbent in November 1987 with 52 percent of the vote, Helmke was re-elected mayor in 1991 and 1995. Helmke is only the second person in Fort Wayne history to be elected to three consecutive four-year mayoral terms. His 64.5 percent of the vote in 1995 tied the largest margin of victory for a Republican in the city of Fort Wayne.
In 1970, Helmke received an honors degree, with highest distinction, in political science from Indiana University (Bloomington , Indiana ). While at I.U., Helmke was selected to Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honorary, and was elected student body president. Helmke received his law degree from Yale University in 1973 (in the same class with Bill and Hillary Clinton).
Prior to becoming mayor, Helmke practiced law and served as an Assistant County Attorney. He taught Communications Law for a number of years in the mid-1980’s. After leaving the mayor’s office, Helmke was “of counsel” with Barnes & Thornburg , Indiana ’s largest law firm, for three years and then returned to his family law firm, Helmke Beams LLP.
A native of Indiana, Helmke and his wife, Deborah, a former public school kindergarten teacher in Fort Wayne , have two grown daughters. The Helmke’s live just outside of D.C. and continue to maintain a residence in Fort Wayne.more » « less