The Journal Gazette
Monday, December 28, 2020 1:00 am

Stay steadfast, Fort Wayne

Tom Didier

This year Fort Wayne, first and foremost, has proven to be more resilient than I could have ever imagined. There is no doubt that 2020 has changed how everyone lives, how we work and, to some extent, how we breathe.

These challenges have affected every single resident of Fort Wayne, but what's more, it's touched the whole world. It should not be lost that every country, every community and every family in the world has spent the past several months coping with changes and figuring out the best way to get through what has been a complicated year.

All that being said, I am incredibly proud of how this community has risen to the challenges it has been presented. I have served as the president of City Council many times, but never in a difficult year of pandemic, death and tragedy. Fort Wayne has found a way forward through it all.

City Council took steps to make sure we were able to continue to meet safely to preserve the public's access to local government and provide transparency on how the city operates.

To safeguard your tax dollars, we also encouraged the administration to scale back financial investments in some scheduled infrastructure improvements, which Mayor Tom Henry readily embraced. This move gave the Public Works department the flexibility it needed to focus on major repairs as needs came up during the crisis.

As a result, Fort Wayne is in a much stronger financial position in spite of the challenges 2020 has brought us.

The entire Fort Wayne community was devastated by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. The community demanded more accountability for law enforcement, and I am pleased we reached an agreement that starting in 2021, Fort Wayne police will be outfitting officers with body cameras.

By the end of 2022, all required officers will be wearing one. Doing this over two years allows us to roll out the program smoothly and make sure we're spending your money wisely.

I was also pleased to lead the effort with my colleague Glynn Hines to hold the administration accountable for the promises made to the developer of Electric Works. This monumental investment in our community was almost compromised without any reasonable explanation from the city. Councilman Hines and I were glad to work for those who expressed frustration with this situation. In the end, Fort Wayne is holding up its end of the agreement and things are moving forward.

As we look ahead, new development in our city will come through partnerships such as these; not following through on an agreement could have significantly damaged our future prospects.

All that said, many of our friends and neighbors are still struggling, and I am not blindly optimistic nor do I want to minimize those challenges in any way. Christmas, Hanukkah and this winter holiday season is typically a time people spend together with their families, but our plans have been disrupted. I can't tell you how many businesses I visit on a regular basis that continue to face challenges. We've seen storefronts close and neighbors or family members suffer through poor health and unemployment.

In Psalm 57 it is written, “My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and chant praise.” I haven't stopped singing yet, and I hope you haven't either! If we remain steadfast, Fort Wayne will continue to find ways to persevere through these difficult times together.

Thank you for the opportunity to lead Fort Wayne.

Third District Councilman Tom Didier served as Fort Wayne City Council president in 2020.

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