The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 02, 2022 1:00 am

Commissioners see selves as living long

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters joked during a special meeting last week about where each of the commissioners will be in 10 years.

The commissioners met Thursday to approve new district boundaries for themselves and the County Council, a process required by law every 10 years.

Constituents have asked how the new district boundaries take future population growth into account. Peters said the commissioners can't redistrict based on expected growth.

“Commissioners Brown, Beck and I will be back in 2030 to fix whatever happens in the next 10 years,” Peters said as Commissioner Therese Brown burst into laughter.

The commissioners laughed until Chris Cloud, chief of staff, hesitantly spoke up. “I mean, ... you can keep running for office if you want,” he said sheepishly. He was too diplomatic to point directly to the commissioners' advancing ages.

Brown laughed as she called Cloud a smart man.

Consider others

Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Michelle Chambers asked her fellow members to consider giving other constituents a chance to serve the community instead of reappointing the same citizens.

The City Council approved its annual appointments to boards and commissions last month, and many of the appointments were repeats who were unopposed and approved unanimously.

Chambers, D-at large, suggested new citizens to serve in a couple of community seats – Christian Terry on the Redevelopment Commission and Tiffany Bostic on the Domestic Violence, Rape & Sexual Harassment Board.

Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, nominated Nathan Hartman to be reappointed to the Redevelopment Commission, and Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, nominated Scott Meyers for another term on  the Domestic Violence, Rape & Sexual Harassment Board.

The votes for the two appointments were split down party lines, which favor the Republicans. Councilmen Paul Ensley, R-1st; Tom Didier, R-3rd; Tom Freistroffer, R-at large; Jehl and Arp voted in favor to reappoint the men already holding the seats. Sharon Tucker, D-6th; Glynn Hines, D-at large; Geoff Paddock, D-5th; and Chambers voted for Bostic and Terry, the two new prospective appointees.

Chambers asked the public to consider applying for appointed positions in the future.

“I think we should take off our hats and not think about party affiliation but think about our other constituents who would like to be of service to our community instead of going back to the usual suspects,” Chambers said. “Maybe next year you'll take under consideration some new folks that want to come and be of service to our city.”

Other citizens appointed were Donald Ross, Animal Care and Control Commission; James Hoch, Board of Zoning Appeals; Brian Bohnke, Cable Fund Access Board; Ron Turpin, Legacy Joint Funding Committee; Pone Vongphachanh, PTC/Citilink Board; and Nina Strickland-Bailey, Jackie McBride and Peggy Meyer, Safe Housing & Building Oversight Committee.

From within

The City Council also decided which of its members would be appointed to various boards and commissions.

Jason Arp will remain in the City Council seat on the Redevelopment Commission after a split vote last month. Arp was nominated by fellow Republican Tom Didier, while Michelle Chambers was nominated by fellow Democrat Glynn Hines. The votes, once again, followed party lines, giving Arp and Republicans the win.

The rest of the appointments for council members went smoothly and were approved unanimously. Arp will also serve on the Fire Merit Board.

Russ Jehl was appointed to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, H.A.N.D.S. Board, Joint Permitting Oversight Committee and Solid Waste Advisory Council. Tom Freistroffer was appointed to the Fort Wayne Plan Commission, as well as the Legacy Joint Funding Committee, where Ensley and Sharon Tucker will join him.

Tucker was also appointed to the Solid Waste Advisory Council. Glynn Hines accepted appointments to the City of Fort Wayne Legacy Fund Board, Compensation Committee and Fort Wayne Commission on African American Males.

Geoff Paddock accepted appointments to the Downtown Improvement District, Fort Wayne Area Council on Homelessness and the Mayor's Opportunity Advisory Board. Chambers was appointed to the Cable Fund Access Board.

Didier was appointed to serve on the Greater Fort Wayne Inc. board. 

A job well done

The City Council praised Paul Ensley for a year of hard work as council president.

During the Dec. 21 meeting, Councilman Geoff Paddock said Ensley did an “outstanding job,” and the rest of the members immediately applauded.

“You have been on top of all of these meetings. You have not missed a beat,” Paddock said. “You have been very respectful to the minority, and we appreciate that very much. You have done an excellent job and a fair job.”

Freistroffer also commended Ensley for “showing tremendous leadership” as a president who works with members on both sides of the political aisle.

Ensley thanked his fellow council members for being respectful to him throughout his one-year term as council president.

“I think every person here I've worked with on something or another throughout the year,” Ensley said, “and it has been my distinct honor and privilege.”

The 2022 City Council president will be nominated and elected Tuesday.

Tucker said she has already asked Ensley if he will run for president again because she would vote for him. She relayed that his answer was along the lines of “heck no.”

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