Political Notebook

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Politics within Web talk?

Hughes

It didn’t take long for the sniping to begin for next year’s Fort Wayne mayoral race, and the full slate of candidates remains undetermined.

Allen County Council President Paula Hughes, R-2nd, wrote a letter last week critical of Democratic Mayor Tom Henry’s decision to hire a social media consultant for $72,000. In it, she tells the mayor she is disappointed he did not ask county officials for assistance on the matter, because the county already has a presence on social media.

“Give us a call; send us a message, type out a tweet. We’ll be here and we would love to help you get up to speed on what the County has been doing all along – for free,” she wrote.

The letter was distributed to the media from Hughes’ mayoral campaign, but she said it was written in her role as president of County Council and was discussed with the county commissioners’ office.

Henry, who has not announced whether he will seek re-election, was obviously put off by the letter and took it as a political jab rather than a sincere offer of help.

“She’s definitely trying to make a name for herself,” Henry said, noting she might be trying to stave off competition from within the GOP.

Hughes pointed out that the county has used Facebook and Twitter since January 2009, but city officials say the consultant was not hired to set up those types of accounts. Instead, the consultant will help develop a strategy for how to connect with residents, including letting them use mobile phones to send text message requests to 311.

Henry said it’s curious that the county would offer online help to the city, calling the county’s website “outdated” and questioning how much traffic it gets compared with the city’s. According to the city and county webmaster, the county’s website had 26,730 unique visitors in October, while the city’s had 31,859.

GOP leadership

Republican leaders in the General Assembly last week announced their majority leadership teams, which have grown on both sides.

Most of the changes are a result of Republicans’ taking commanding leads in both chambers – 37 members in the Senate and 60 in the House (pending a recount).

That means more members to make happy with special appointments and, of course, leadership pay.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, added four members to the ranks of majority leadership. They include a majority floor leader emeritus; assistant majority floor leader for communications; assistant majority whip; and assistant majority caucus chair.

Those positions bring the Senate Republican leadership team to 11 members. There are also 19 committee chairmanships.

By comparison, in 2001, the Senate majority had eight members in leadership and 20 committee chairmanships.

Over in the House, Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced a majority leadership team of 12, including six assistants. He also assigned 24 committee chairmanships (including two Democrats).

By comparison, in 2001, the House majority had 15 members in leadership and 17 committee chairmanships.

Making Gaines

Republican City Council candidate Jerome Gaines did not waste time in attacking incumbent Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd, when he announced his candidacy last week.

Gaines, a city fire department battalion chief, spent the first part of his speech blasting Goldner for being too liberal and out of touch with her constituents, saying she promised to improve the district, which encompasses north-central Fort Wayne.

“Three years later, she has failed to deliver on any of her promises,” he said. “Her political and personal views do not represent the conservative values held by myself and the vast majority of residents in the 2nd District.”

He attacked Goldner’s efforts to make it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity, which was rejected by the council.

Goldner said she hadn’t heard about Gaines’ attacks, but she said it’s likely he will have an opponent in the Republican primary in May and might be doing this to help in that race. She said while people typically start their campaigns with more positive messages, it’s up to Gaines how he runs his campaign.

“That’s politics,” she said.

Don Bobay, a local businessman, has previously said he will seek the GOP nomination in the race, but several sources doubt he will run.

Smoky coincidence

Former Fort Wayne councilman John Crawford gained a reputation for meticulous planning, so it came as somewhat of a surprise that the seemingly perfect timing of his announcement to run for office was a coincidence.

Crawford on Thursday announced he will run for an at-large council position next year. The oncologist is probably best known as the author of the city smoking ban. So it seemed fitting that Crawford picked the Great American Smokeout Day on which to make his announcement.

But Crawford insists that link wasn’t made on purpose. Instead, he simply had some available time that day and was able to be downtown for a few hours.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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