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Rogue Democrat Mahern resigns from Indy council

October 20, 2014

A lightning rod on the Indianapolis City-County Council, Democrat Brian Mahern resigned, effective Sunday.

Mahern said he submitted his resignation letter Oct. 16 in anticipation of a new job in the Marion County Assessor’s Office, which started Monday. Under state law, municipal employees cannot sit on the council.

Mahern, who fought Council President Maggie Lewis and other members of his own caucus over the city’s tax-increment finance policy, had already decided not to seek re-election in 2015. His early resignation is noteworthy, though, because it’s likely to touch off a round of musical chairs that will give Democrats, who hold the council majority by one vote, a chance to run more incumbents in the 2015 municipal election.

"I’m anxious to continue my public service," Mahern said. In the past, he worked at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and with his wife, who owns a property-tax consulting firm.

Because of a state law passed in 2013, the 29-member council’s four at-large seats will be eliminated after next year. All four of those at-large seats are held by Democrats.

At-large member Zach Adamson lives in Mahern’s east-side district and was already planning to seek his seat. Joel Miller, chairman of the Marion County Democrats, said it’s “very possible” Adamson will submit his name for appointment to the seat, which would prompt the party to appoint someone else to serve out Adamson’s term.

In that scenario, the at-large appointee would have a year of experience and incumbent status as he or she sought a district seat in 2015, Miller said. At this point, however, Miller said he’s not sure who will put their hands up for the appointment to Mahern’s seat. A caucus of precinct committee members must make the appointment within 30 days.

Mahern is a former council vice president who resigned his leadership post in 2012 after losing a stand-off with Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration over expansion of the downtown TIF district. Then, in August 2013, he plotted with Republicans – and failed – to remove Lewis from her post as president.

Miller acknowledged that Mahern has been a wild card but said he’s been more cooperative lately. For many months, he didn’t attend the council Democrats’ caucus meetings, which take place before the City-County Council meeting. That changed two or three months ago, Miller said. “With a narrow margin, it’s good to have everyone participating and pulling at the same time.”

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