Embattled Indy Council Democrat Stephen Clay decides to skip reelection bid

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Embattled Democratic Indianapolis City-County Council member Stephen Clay has decided not to seek reelection to the council later this fall, he announced Friday.

The decision comes after Clay was all but shunned by his political party after he worked with Republicans early last year to oust Maggie Lewis from her then-role of council president and take over as president himself. He lasted just six weeks as president before being resigning under pressure and being replaced by current president Vop Osili.

Clay was first elected to the council in 2014.

His caucus has expelled him from its ranks and Democrats were not planning to endorse him at their upcoming pre-primary convention as their preferred candidate for District 13, which is on the northeast side of the city.

In a statement, Clay, who is a pastor at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church, said “the work has been rewarding and a natural extension of our pastoral ministry” and that “we will continue to advocate for those whose voices would perhaps otherwise not be heard.”

“I choose rather to reposition myself on the field of play and to [loosen] myself from the political entanglements that have proven to be counterproductive for accomplishing what I believe is essential,” Clay wrote in a statement. “What I have accomplished, seen and learned can never be erased.”

So far, Democrat Belinda Drake has filed to run for Clay’s council seat.  

Feb. 8 is the deadline in Marion County for a candidate from a major party to file for candidacy for the municipal primary election.

During his brief stint as council president, Clay increased power for Republicans on the Democrat-led council, fired council staff members (who were eventually hired back), and so angered Democrats that they decided to file a lawsuit against him, which they eventually dismissed.

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