‘Move a step forward’: Allen County GOP endorses Black attorney for council vacancy

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Allen County Republican Party has endorsed a Black attorney to fill a vacancy on Allen County Council created after former councilman Larry Brown resigned for calling protesters “uneducated.”

Apryl Underwood has been selected by the party to fill the 4th District seat on Allen County Council. The party will hold a caucus at 6 p.m. on July 6 to fill the vacancy.

If approved, Underwood would be the first African American Republican woman to hold a seat on Allen County Council.

Underwood is an associate attorney at Barnes & Thornburg. She received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School and holds both a Master in Public Affairs from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a Master of Science in Medical Science from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Larry Brown resigned from the seat on Monday, days after he called protesters “uneducated” and said “unfortunately they also breed” near the end of the June 18 regular County Council meeting, while council members were engaged in a discussion about recent protests in downtown Fort Wayne.

Brown questioned whether the body should make a public statement on the demonstrations against racism and police brutality. He said “we’re all being threatened with votes,” and encouraged the council to “stay unified.”

After a brief discussion, Brown continued.

“As uneducated as they are, obviously, on local government, they do vote, and unfortunately they also breed,” Brown said. “They do vote and they’re going to be an uneducated voter.”

After the meeting, calls for Brown’s resignation came. An online petition racked up thousands of signatures, and Fort Wayne City Council members joined the call.

On Monday, Brown resigned. He sent a letter to Council President Joel Benz and Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine.

Now, the Republican Party hopes to move on from the situation.

“Our nation and our community are demanding change – and demanding it now,” Shine said. “As community leaders, we have an abiding obligation to give all citizens a hand on the wheel of government. The Allen County Republican Party is aware of the seismic change in our cultural environment and filling the vacancy on the Allen County Council by selecting Apryl Underwood to fill the vacancy gives the GOP an opportunity, right now, to move a step forward toward fulfilling that obligation.”

Shine said between her professional and cultural backgrounds, he sees Underwood as the right candidate for the party to move forward with.

“These are things in life experiences and cultural beliefs that are important not only to bring to the table for the Allen County Council but to let the community know that these are concerns of ours and that we’re trying to respond in a manner that will let people see that we are serious about diversity and racial equality,” said Shine.

Underwood said the opportunity was “divinely orchestrated” and one she was “not going to run away from.” She also emphasized the importance of representation and said she hopes that a more diverse council would make more people in the community feel heard.

“I would hope that in having that example and knowing that I’m listening and that I’m here, that they will feel heard and feel engageed and represented,” said Underwood. “It’s important that those voices be amplified and that everyone has a seat at the table.”

Shine said he planned to introduce Underwood to precinct committee members at the July 6 caucus.

Allen County’s 4th District represents the southwest quadrant of the county.

The term runs through Dec. 31, 2022.

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