Northeast Fort Wayne voters have a clear choice in the 1st District City Council race. That might not have been the case: No one ran on the Democratic side in this spring's primary to face incumbent Republican Paul Ensley. But in August, Misti Meehan, the Allen County Democratic chair, stepped up.
Meehan, who served eight years in the Indiana National Guard and is vice president of the state Democratic veterans organization, viewed getting politically involved and being a candidate as logical next steps.
“I see running for office as continued service to my country,” she told us. “If more people participated, it would just be better for the entire community. ... I was born and raised in this district, and we need an advocate. We need someone who's going to step up and bring something back to our district.”
Among Meehan's concerns are seeing more economic development directed toward her part of the city and getting action on some particular infrastructure needs. “We have safety concerns,” she said, including ensuring decent sidewalks for schoolchildren who live beyond zones now targeted for sidewalks and improvements. The bridge near East State Boulevard and Maplecrest Road is dangerous to walk across despite the proximity of three schools, she said. “Trier Road is not safe. Maplecrest is horribly dark between Trier and State, with big potholes, and there are people walking there all the time.” There are also drainage problems that need to be addressed, she said.
She's learned of such needs by listening to voters this year. “I am just a vessel carrying forth what my constituents want,” Meehan said. “And they're not getting that.”
Meehan also favors public support for economic development projects such as Promenade Park and Electric Works. That is an area where she and Ensley sharply differ.
“I'm not in favor of corporate welfare – taking public money and giving it to private businesses for their profit-seeking ventures,” Ensley said.
Ensley said he is running for a second term to further the goals he ran on the first time. “I had a message of limited government, low taxes and public safety,” Ensley said. In the ensuing four years, he has opposed the public-money component of numerous high-profile projects and voted against a tax increase designed to fund infrastructure improvements.
Though it seems many council votes end up 7-2, with Ensley and 4th District Republican Jason Arp in the minority, Ensley notes he doesn't always vote “no.” He favored the purchase of the North River property, and aiding development of the Clyde Theatre, for instance – and he says he is definitely not anti-roads and sidewalks. “In my four years on City Council, we've seen tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into the downtown area. The issue is not that we don't have $8 million a year to spend for sidewalks. It's a matter of priorities.
“The issue,” Ensley said, “is not that the money's not there, the issue is that we're investing in things that are nice over things that are essential. If we have $20 million to invest in Promenade Park, we probably could have spent money on sidewalks for kids to walk to school.”
“I'm disappointed that he couldn't see what the Promenade Park project ended up being,” Meehan said. “When I was a little kid, you didn't really come downtown. ... (Now) There's shopping and there's food, and things don't come to a screeching halt at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. ... I believe you have to have a prosperous downtown for the development of a prosperous city. There are ripple effects that go throughout the city. It matters a great deal.”
Meehan would be a council member who stands up for her district but also takes the larger view. The sidewalks and roads would get fixed under that approach, but Fort Wayne also would do what is necessary to compete for the jobs, businesses and skilled workers that would make this a better community.
Ensley is sincere in his beliefs, but his vision for Fort Wayne is far too constricted. We endorse Misti Meehan.
Oct. 3: Huntington school referendums
Oct. 4: Fort Wayne city clerk
Oct. 6: Fort Wayne Council at large
Today: Fort Wayne Council District 1
Tuesday: Fort Wayne Council District 3
Wednesday: Fort Wayne Council District 4
Thursday: Fort Wayne Council District 5
Friday: New Haven mayor
Oct. 13: Fort Wayne mayor
*Candidates in Fort Wayne City Council Districts 2 and 6 are unopposed
Find endorsements online at journalgazette.net/Opinion/Endorsements