It was a campaign mired in controversy, but the voters have spoken – the Republican Party will hold the Fort Wayne City Clerk’s Office for the next four years.
For the past 38 years, the office was run by a Democrat. After 32 years under former City Clerk Sandy Kennedy, the Allen County Republican Party believes the city clerk’s office will be in good hands with Lana Keesling at the helm.
"I’m up for the challenge. I’m excited about the challenge. I think we will have to start from the beginning to restore the integrity and the honesty and the reputation of the city clerk’s office," Keesling said on the stage at Republican Party headquarters Tuesday night. "Fort Wayne deserves the city clerk’s office that we’re proud of."
An otherwise quiet campaign exploded in early October with the release of a set of videos recorded, edited and captioned by former parking enforcement supervisor Colin Keeney.
Those videos appeared to show Kennedy electioneering in her office in Citizens Square, threatening employees’ jobs if they did not participate in or contribute to the election campaign of then-Deputy City Clerk Angie Davis. Kennedy resigned her position Oct.?13, followed by Davis on Oct.?29.
Davis resigned a day ahead of another set of videos that showed her and Patricia Stahlhut, Davis’ campaign manager and a supervisor in the clerk’s office, allegedly using the police database Spillman to look up contact information for potential campaign donors.
Former City Councilman Don Schmidt, a Republican, was appointed by Mayor Tom Henry to fill the position until the Democratic Party’s caucus Sunday. A replacement clerk will be chosen to finish Kennedy’s term before handing the office over to Keesling on Jan.?1.
Davis had worked in the city clerk’s office for about 40 years until her resignation.
Since winning the May primary, Keesling campaigned on updating technology and procedures in the clerk’s office to bring operations into the 21st century.
Notably, she said she wants to digitize recordings of City Council meetings and make them easier to search through. She also said she plans to update the city’s parking infrastructure to make it easier to pay for parking downtown.
Speaking at GOP headquarters Tuesday, Keesling said: "I knew that I had the background to do a good job" as clerk.
"Little did I know the challenge that it was really going to be when I started this campaign at the beginning of the year," she said about the campaign.
Davis did not return a message seeking comment late Tuesday.
Brian Francisco of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.