Vote for the contrarian: Jason Arp

Fort Wayne’s Fourth District needs to keep this vocal fiscal conservative on City Council.

If I were writing an endorsement my friend, Fort Wayne District 4 Councilman Jason Arp, I couldn’t do much better than this:

He has been swimming against the tide of progressive local government since his election to the council in 2015. Often joined by District 1 Republican Paul Ensley, Arp has consistently opposed the aggressive economic development plans a bipartisan coalition of council members and the Democratic administration have supported.

Arp considers the tax-abatement process a system of picking “winners and losers,” and contends projects such as The Landing and Electric Works essentially take money from taxpayers and give it to private developers. He says many of his constituents share his skepticism. 

Arp … prefers a minimalist approach to government that would focus on neighborhood infrastructure and public-safety services needs and let the unfettered free market determine the community’s economic fate.

But this was written by The Journal Gazette as a criticism by the editorial board as it worked its way toward an endorsement of Arp’s primary opponent, Rachel Lott.

It’s no surprise that the traditionally Democratic JG would endorse the more progressive candidate, and it did in both the primary and general election.

But of all the races in Fort Wayne this year, why would the Fourth District race be the second-most expensive one in the city, trailing only the mayor’s race?

It’s not because the incumbent Republican councilman in a Republican district gathered a lot of extra campaign cash to defeat a weak Democrat nominee. Instead, the opposite is true. It’s the opposing Democrat who has the slick website, a well-produced video, and deep pockets. The Democrat, Patti Hays, has raised almost $70,000 versus the $31,000 that Arp has accumulated.

Why is there so much money in opposition to the incumbent Arp? I believe The Journal Gazette quote from above describes the issue perfectly:

Arp has consistently opposed the aggressive economic development plans a bipartisan coalition of council members and the Democratic administration have supported.

So the voters of the Fourth District have a clear choice.

Do they want someone who will act on true conservative principles, even if these principles go against the wishes of his own allies? Someone who will ask the difficult questions and do his best to protect the taxpayer when special interests ask for handouts?

Or do they want the city’s “aggressive economic development” approved with 8-1 votes rather than 7-2 votes? Honestly, why bother voting for that?

Fort Wayne needs a councilman willing to question spending in the face of an increasingly progressive city government. I hope my friends in the Fourth District vote to give Jason Arp another term on Fort Wayne City Council — for the good of every taxpayer in the city.

Jon Swerens is a longtime Fort Wayne resident and editor of The Prow.