Partisan loyalties seemed to dominate the first meeting of the year of Fort Wayne City Council on Jan. 7.
It was the first meeting of the new council, elected back in November. History was made with the presence of two African-American women, Michelle Chambers, D-at large, and Sharon Tucker, D-6th District, on council at the same time. The political split on council is now 5-4 with Republicans holding the majority; for the four years prior, Republicans held a 7-2 majority.
After a brief welcome from Mayor Tom Henry, the first order of business was to elect a City Council president. Tom Didier, R-3rd District, was nominated along with Glynn Hines, D-at large. Didier was elected along party lines with a 5-4 vote.
Hines and Paul Ensley, R-1st District, were then nominated for vice president. Hines asked to be considered even though as a Democrat he would represent the opposite party of Didier, a Republican.
“I do have an idea of a role I want to utilize you in,” Didier said.
Ensley was elected vice president with another 5-4 party line vote.
The next order of business was for Didier to make committee appointments for 2020. City Council has four committees, Finance, Regulations, Public Works and City Utilities. Each committee has a chair and co-chair, and midyear the two switch positions. Didier wanted Hines to be chair of the Finance Committee. But Hines, who has been on council for 20 years representing the 6th District before winning an at-large seat in November, said “my preference would be doing budget hearings.” Because budget hearings are held in the fall, by the time they began he would have been co-chair of the committee.