Tom Freistroffer likely to lead Fort Wayne City Council in 2018; sees communication as key

Joel Benz to lead County Council, Therese Brown county commissioners

Tom Freistroffer
Joel Benz
Therese Brown

Improved communication will be the goal of the man expected to lead Fort Wayne City Council in 2018.

“That’s the key thing in this position, and it starts with communicating with the administration (of Mayor Tom Henry). There’s a perception we don’t have a direct line of communication,” said Tom Freistroffer, R-at large, who is expected to be elected to lead the nine-member body during its annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday.

The seven-member Allen County Council, meanwhile, is expected to elect Joel Benz president when it meets Thursday, while Therese Brown is expected to serve a second consecutive term as president of the county’s three-member Board of Commissioners.

Freistroffer, a councilman since 2016, said he hopes to meet regularly with administration representatives in order to avoid the need for last-minute decisions — something some observers believe happened when council was given the chance to pay $4.3 million for the so-called “North River” property just a few weeks before the months-old purchase agreement was scheduled to expire.

Freistroffer said he also hopes to improve communication between council members, county government and the public. To that end, he plans to schedule informational “Fifth Tuesday” meetings on evenings council would not normally meet, possibly starting this month with a discussion of the proposal to convert the former General Electric plant into the “Electric Works” housing and retail campus. Seven of council’s nine members are Republican, but Freistroffer plans to work with Democrats as well as members of his own party. Henry is also a Democrat.

Benz, R-3rd, elected to council in 2014, said he hopes to improve collaboration with the city but sees no need for major changes. “We’ve raised salaries (for county employees), and the hope is to keep the ship upright and sailing in the right direction.” Six of the council’s seven members are Republicans.

City Council approves legislation and budgetary issues; County Council is the county’s fiscal body. The commissioners represent the legislative and executive branches of county government — a position Brown, R-2nd, has held since 2011. All three commissioners are Republicans.