FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Republican City Councilman Jason Arp has been elected president of the Council thanks to support from the field of Democrats.
During the council’s first meeting of the year Tuesday night, Arp (4th District) defeated Russ Jehl (R-2nd) by a 5-4 vote, with all Democrats (Michelle Chambers, Glynn Hines, Geoff Paddock and Sharon Tucker) voting for him. Arp, voting for himself, was the only Republican vote.
Hines nominated Arp for the position.
“Thank you very much to my colleagues,” Arp said after taking the president’s seat. “I really appreciate the vote of confidence that you’ve given me this evening. Hopefully I’ll be able to earn the honor that you’ve given me.”
Arp told WANE 15 he had discussions with other councilmembers before the meeting and expected the support.
Hines was elected vice president by a 5-4 vote, with the same voting pattern.
Jehl told WANE 15 his fellow Republicans did not feel Arp was ready.
“He violated the 11th commandment to not speak ill of other Republicans,” Jehl said. “And then he went and cut a deal with the Democrats.”
Jehl said he doesn’t begrudge the Democrats whatsoever and guessed they made the deal “presumably so that Hines could be president next year.”
Jehl brushed aside the idea this demonstrated bipartisanship.
“It’s not a bipartisan deal. This is a Republican turning on his party, hurting his party.”
Jehl said the Republicans planned to have Arp be the council president in 2023.
Jehl said it’s the custom of the Republican caucus to rotate the president’s seat annually.
Jehl said his fellow Republicans were aware of what might happen and had the choice either to placate Arp or take the chance he’d make a deal with the Democrats.
Jehl doesn’t believe this will lead to council fights. “This is Fort Wayne city council. Everyone is very congenial when they disagree. Hopefully that’s still the case.”
Sharon Tucker also hopes a Republican rift won’t derail collaboration. “I hope we can get past whatever disagreement they may have and get work done for our city,” Tucker told WANE 15.