The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 1:00 am

Losses, victories part of council service

Michael Barranda

Now that the dust has settled on the 2019 elections, I want to offer a few thoughts. First, my sincere congratulations to Tom Freistroffer and Glynn Hines. I have enjoyed working with you both and know that you will continue to represent your constituents well. Also to Michelle Chambers, who worked extremely hard for her victory.

My thoughts are also with friends and colleagues who did not prevail, in particular Tim Smith, Nathan Hartman, Taylor Vanover and Patti Hays. I also lost my first campaign. And I know the strains it takes on friends and family.

You do not have to share political ideologies with people to appreciate when somebody hears the call to service and then truly dedicates the good part of a year (or more) working toward a job that is not remotely as financially rewarding as the time and effort it takes to do it well.

Indeed, the job is a service. A difficult one. Personally, I will not lament my loss. I went into this bid for reelection under a simple premise: It was a referendum on whether the city needed me on City Council based on my track record, as well as the time, effort and resources I was capable of providing.

If I'm honest, I often felt it would be business as usual without me. I will readily admit I was not the kind of elected official that “made appearances,” pushed an agenda or pandered for votes. While that often confused people, the fact is that I worked behind the scenes ensuring that the things that came before council were appropriate.

Human nature is to mourn losses: like the environmental indemnity for the city's North River property and the inability to convince my colleagues to support my alternative (and legally valid) bill involving campaign finance.

But in hindsight, I can certainly cite some victories: We made strides with budgeting transparency. We will finally address our comprehensive plan. We have made and continue to make great strides with the Legacy Joint Funding Committee and its process.

Pushing for the Riverfront Advisory Committee proved a success. It was extremely important to achieve a public component in the Electric Works, given the kind of commitment for public funds requested. And the ongoing efforts with the Fire Merit Commission have been challenging but successful.

The job also takes its toll. Like the hundreds of calls and emails pertaining to trash collection. Or when the mayor called my boss and pressured him to make me vote in favor of annexation.

But I'll never forget the meeting after a polarizing vote for public funds toward a private development. I voted in favor of the project, and yet a proponent of the project took me to task for requesting the capital stack and for reading the contract. To paraphrase, he would have never supported me had he known that I would even question his recommendation. Such is the insanity of public service.

But I ran for reelection because it is a service, and I felt that I still had a role to offer. When you are raised by a single mother, you know that you have to prioritize life. Do your job, provide for your family and BE a family.

I won't lament my loss. I know that I did my job well, and few around the city would disagree. But I'm not a politician, and I also don't check all the boxes that history wants checked right now. And I can live with that. I still have a job to do and a family to love. To the extent that I can find other ways to serve the community – I will certainly do that, too.

Thank you to the citizens of Fort Wayne for allowing me to represent you for four years. An even bigger thank you to my family and their sacrifices made in the last four years.

Michael Barranda is an at-large member of Fort Wayne City Council.

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