Political Notebook

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GOP hopefuls make intentions known

A highlight of the Allen County Republican Party’s yearly Bean Dinner is when candidates for the next primary election introduce themselves to the audience.

Their intentions could change before filing deadlines in February, of course. But if the pronouncements made Tuesday night pan out, Republicans will have contested primaries for at least three seats in the Indiana General Assembly and for county sheriff.

Liz Brown, a former member of Fort Wayne City Council, and Allen County Councilman Darren Vogt announced plans at the dinner at Ceruti’s Summit Park to seek the Senate District 15 seat of retiring Sen. Thomas Wyss, R-Fort Wayne.

Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne, said he will run in House District 85. Cox recently won a GOP caucus to fill the term of veteran Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven, who died Sept. 22.

Two people whom Cox defeated in the caucus vote – Dave Heine and Denny Worman – announced their candidacies Tuesday for Cox’s seat in the May 6 primary election.

Michael Barranda repeated his July announcement to run in House District 84 against Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne.

Two people confirmed their candidacies for Allen County sheriff to succeed term-limited incumbent Ken Fries: Chief Deputy Dave Gladieux and Indiana State Police Sgt. Luke NaThalang.

Also at the dinner were two Republicans seeking the nomination for state treasurer: Don Bates of Winchester and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold. Bates ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and for the U.S. House in 2012.

A treasurer candidate will be nominated in June at the GOP state convention in Fort Wayne. Republican incumbent Richard Mourdock is term-limited.

No big deal this time

The Bean Dinner is supposed to be a big deal, ranking up there with the Allen County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

So when Fort Wayne City Clerk Sandy Kennedy and several Republican City Council members were chatting before Tuesday’s council meeting, she was surprised by their reactions to her question asking if, since the Bean Dinner was that evening, they could expect a short meeting so members could get to the event on time.

Council President Tom Didier: “Noooooo.”

Member Tom Smith, R-1st: “I’m not worried about it.”

And then the conversation took a different turn when it became clear some of the luster had come off the event after keynote speaker Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., pulled out because of government shutdown negotiations. Kennedy jokingly asked Didier whether he would be filling in for Coats.

“Hmmm,” Didier responded. “Sen. Didier does have a nice ring to it.”

Raise or no raise

After the Allen County Council voted Thursday to give county elected officials and employees 2 percent salary increases in 2014, Councilman Tom Harris, R-2nd, said he did not want the raise. Council members receive $15,475 annually, so the increase would be $309.50 for each council member.

It was tricky to refuse, Harris said.

“There were some council members who did not agree with me, so I decided not to make a big deal of it,” he said. He decided to vote in favor for everyone else’s sake and refuse his portion when the time came, he said.

Harris was then told that he had to accept the increase or it would be a violation of state law.

“That’s bureaucracy at its finest,” Harris laughed.

Harris said he did not want to accept the raise because that’s not the reason he ran for office.

“It’s an honor and privilege to serve the community,” he said. “And, even though our unemployment rate is down to 7 percent, I would feel better accepting (a raise) when it is down to 5 percent.”

The increase will be returned to the county in the form of a donation, Harris said.

He has been blessed and doesn’t need the extra money, he said. Besides, Harris added, he probably spends more than that every year at Starbucks.

Thorough credit

It’s hard to fault someone for wanting to take credit for something he has done. But it seemed a little quick when the office of state Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, sent out a news release just hours after the Fort Wayne Capital Improvements Board voted to contribute $6.5 million toward the downtown Ash Brokerage project.

The money will make the loan payments for the first 10 years on the city’s portion of the project, a 780-space parking garage.

It was GiaQuinta’s legislation that created the Capital Improvements Board.

“I am particularly delighted that a state law I authored back in 2009 (House Enrolled Act 1514) was able to play a significant role in today’s decision,” GiaQuinta’s statement read in part.

Again, it’s hard to fault someone for taking credit when he, in fact, deserves the credit. But Political Notebook couldn’t help but roll our eyes a bit when, just a few hours later, we got the same news release – this time forwarded by GiaQuinta himself.

We’re sure he was just being thorough.

Vivian Sade and Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.