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News-Sentinel Editorial: Republican Ensley offers best approach in District 1

Republican Paul Ensley rejects the notion that he always votes “no” on the Fort Wayne City Council.

The first-term District 1 councilman does go against the flow on many issues where he and 4th District Republican Jason Arp are sometimes on the losing end of 7-2 votes.

“It’s frustrating to be on the losing side of votes,” Ensley told the News-Sentinel.com editorial board, “but I represent what my constituency thinks.”

For example, while he agrees that some taxation is necessary — such as for public safety — he’s quick to say, “I have voted against every tax increase since I’ve been on City Council.”

Ensley said he stands for the basic principles of low taxes, limited government and preserving the Legacy Fund. That was his platform four years ago as it is now in his bid for a second term, and we are endorsing Ensley to be re-elected on Nov. 5 to continue serving the citizens in District 1 in northeast Fort Wayne.

“With Jason and I being on Council, the Council has in some ways become more conservative,” Ensley said. “We shine a light on issues.”

And Ensley pointed out examples of “yes” votes along the way. For example, he voted in favor of purchasing the North River property. And he voted for funding for the renovation of the former Clyde Theatre in Quimby Village as well.

Ensley disputes perceptions that he is an obstructionist. He served on the planning commission when rezoning was done in advance of the launch of the Electric Works project on Broadway.

“I’d love to see that project there,” he said. “The only part I haven’t supported was the $10 million Legacy grant.”

He said he definitely wants to see Electric Works succeed, but he serves on the Legacy funding committee and works to make sure that those funds are protected. The Legacy Fund consists of money generated by the lease and sale of the city’s old power utility.

“We should use the Legacy Fund for capital projects that will be around for a long time, not for operational expenses,” Ensley explained. “My constituents want it protected.”

Ensley said his biggest problem with economic development in Fort Wayne is abatements. “Businesses that don’t require subsidies are strong businesses,” Ensley said. He believes the city’s policy should be competitive.

“There is no place for abatements,” he told us. “The government’s role is to create a pro-business environment, not to be involved in backroom deal-making with hand-picked companies that get sweetheart deals others don’t get. Government needs to be impartial.”

Ensley’ s No. 1 issue?

“Neighborhood infrastructure is what I’m most passionate about,” he told us.

For example, with some of the city’s school bus routes discontinued, many more students have been forced to walk to school on busy roads that don’t have sidewalks. And that’s one of the areas of infrastructure Ensley thinks must be completed.

“We’ve done glamorous projects downtown, so we’ve got the money to afford it,” he said. But he believes sidewalks, like other neighborhood issues, must be more of a priority.

Those sidewalks are also a key issue for Ensley’s opponent, county Democratic chairwoman Misty Meehan. When no one ran on the Democratic ticket for District a in the spring primary, Meehan decided in August to enter the race.

Meehan, who was born and reared in District 1, received a bachelor’s degree in public policy and political science from IPFW. She served eight years in the Indiana National Guard.

Ensely has the experience and conservative approach to taxes that serves the City Council well. He should be re-elected in District 1.

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