Longtime councilor Brown to leave office

Democrat Vernon Brown, a key opponent of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s infrastructure-spending plan, said he plans to resign from the City-County Council this summer.

“I plan on resigning from the council soon,” Brown told IBJ on Friday. His resignation means that Marion County Democrats will be able to appoint a successor who could run for the council seat as an incumbent in 2015. It also means the council Public Works Committee would have a new chairman, though that person would most likely be a Democrat.

Brown, who is in his 11th year on the council, served as majority leader from 2011 to 2013. He said he plans to resign in the next six to eight weeks so he won’t be serving on the council during 2015 budget hearings at the same time he’s running a campaign for trustee of Warren Township. His Republican opponent is Michael Heady.

“I’ve been through 10 budgets, and I know how intense the budget process is,” said Brown, who represents District 18, which is in Warren Township. “I can’t do both of those jobs justice.”

Ballard, a Republican, last summer proposed a second round of infrastructure funding under a program called Rebuild Indy 2, but Brown has refused to hear it. Republicans recently said they plan to introduce a revised version of Rebuild Indy 2 that would answer many of Democrats’ objections.

“He is chairman of the committee and has put major stops to getting anything done,” said Janice McHenry, a Republican member of the committee. Apart from Rebuild Indy 2, McHenry said a number of minor proposals, such as new stop signs and intersection signals, have been slow to move through the council because of committee meetings Brown canceled.

Whether the parties can reach a compromise on Rebuild Indy 2 will depend on who becomes the new committee chairperson, McHenry said. She said there are other Democrats who would be easier to negotiate with than Brown.

Democrats currently hold five of the eight committee seats, so whoever the committee chooses as chairperson after Brown departs will most likely be a Democrat.

As an Indianapolis firefighter, Brown is one of three council members who face a decision about whether to continue on the council or leave city-county employment.

A 2012 state law says local-government employees can't be elected to bodies that oversee their budgets. Those who were in office on Jan. 1, 2013, however, won't be affected until 2015. Democrats Steve Talley and Mary Moriarty Adams also work for the city and county, Talley in the community affairs division of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Adams as director of administration for the Marion County assessor.

Talley said he won’t run for the council in 2015, but he is running this year for trustee of Lawrence Township. He is unopposed at this point.

Adams, who is in her seventh term on the council, said she will run again and make a decision about employment if she wins.

“I’ve got what I consider plenty of time,” she said.

Marion County Democrats will have 30 days to fill Brown’s seat, once he resigns. He declined to say who might be a front-runner for the appointment. He said he’s talked to five different people about serving.

“They’re not breaking the door down to get on the council,” he said.

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