Democratic candidate Patti Hays talks about wanting to reduce economic disparities in her southwest City Council district and across Fort Wayne.
First-term Republican incumbent Jason Arp isn’t talking about what he wants to do – at least not with The Journal Gazette. He did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking an interview.
He wrote at his website jasonarp.com: “As your representative on city council, I advocate for small, limited government and protecting the individual’s rights to life, liberty and property. I believe the surest path to prosperity is simply getting the government out of the way.”
Republicans have represented the 4th District since Aboite Township joined it for the 2007 municipal election. Since winning the seat in the 2015 election, Arp has built a reputation as a fiscal conservative who has opposed numerous spending measures and tax abatements, tried to eliminate personal property taxes for businesses, and advocated for residents to hire their own trash haulers. He also sponsored – to the dismay of Native Americans and their backers – a resolution honoring Fort Wayne’s namesake, Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who commanded U.S. forces in the Northwest Indian War.
Hays said the chief issue in this year’s election “is to be sure that all voices in the district are represented.” She offered examples of places she said are underrepresented.
“There are roads in Waynedale that are still chip-and-seal” rather than resurfaced, she said. “There is no sidewalk on Lower Huntington Road.”
Hays said that a good council member “understands the potential for prosperity for everyone. … I don’t know if a city can prosper if that same prosperity isn’t available potentially to everyone.”
“Citywide, I think our challenge is to keep a vision out in front of us,” she said. “It’s easy, after a winning season, to pat each other on the back and relish in the accolades. And we’ve had some of that recently.”
She mentioned downtown development, the expansion of the city’s system of trails and increases in the value of local housing.
“We’re still lagging on our average annual income and the (income) disparity still for women and men doing the same job,” she said.
“I’d hate to see us end up with economic disparity greater than it already is – that those with prosperity get more, and that loss and whittling of that middle class.
“So how do we make sure that everyone is being represented,” Hays said.
Arp, who spoke last spring with The Journal Gazette for a Republican primary election preview story, responded to the League of Women Voters for that organization’s voters’ guide, which is available online at vote411.org.
“Transparency, accountability and responsibility” are Arp’s priorities for local government, he wrote for the voters’ guide.
“Prior to my term on council, many of the community and economic development activities of the city and its affiliates have gone unscrutinized passing millions of dollars of expenses of public money on private industry without a real examination of the financial merits of the venture and the long term prospects of success. Rather than asking questions, the media issues what amount to press releases supporting what ever the newest expenditure may be,” Arp wrote.
“I have continued to question developers, economic development contractors and the administration publicly, at council and in the media. …
“These efforts to shed light on the details and the process help to create an informed electorate, without whom we find ourselves being ruled, not represented,” he wrote.