My colleague and fellow Democrat, Councilor Sam Delong, recently submitted her resignation from the Fishers City Council to relocate to be closer to family. I thank Sam for her service and look forward to the Hamilton County Democratic Party’s caucus thoughtfully selecting her replacement soon.
Sam served the City of Fishers and her constituents of the North Central district well through difficult circumstances, taking office just before the onset of the pandemic. As one of Fishers’ first-ever elected Democrats, she also faced a surprising number of partisan obstacles to fulfilling her City Council responsibilities, just as I have.
To the future new Democratic member of the Fishers City Council, I am eager to collaborate with you. I know that we will share a commitment to make government more transparent and accessible for residents, create policies that improve diversity, equity and inclusion, and represent Fishers citizen’s interests above all.
Now I want to share the truth with you. As public servants, we have the responsibility to always do the right thing for our community and our constituents, even if that makes the Republican council members uncomfortable.
I understand why our colleagues may feel uncomfortable. For the first time ever, the Fishers City Council includes representatives of both political parties. A bipartisan legislative body is a new opportunity for lively debates on how to achieve the best outcomes for the city. But it requires an acceptance of diverse perspectives in order to be productive.
Unfortunately, I routinely experience reluctance from our City Council Republican colleagues to address important, non-partisan city issues. For example, I’ve seen firsthand their reluctance to address Open Door Law compliance concerns that obstruct government transparency. I’ve seen their reluctance to improve the way the City Council appoints citizens to boards and commissions, even when failing to do so risks the integrity and diversity of our local government. I’ve seen their reluctance to supervise the State Road 37 construction project even though it is currently $40 million over budget. I’ve seen their reluctance to critique the Fishers Health Department, a new department of city government created hastily during the pandemic. They seem reluctant to oversee municipal spending of taxpayer funds, even though such oversight is the cornerstone of fiscal responsibility.
Although there are many challenges, you and I cannot get discouraged. We can’t give up. For example, if I ask multiple times for city information but still don’t receive it weeks later, I keep asking. If I raise a constituent’s concern to the City Council but receive silence in response, I keep using my voice. And if another council member tells me that I am overstepping when I demand better for our city, I know that demanding better is exactly my job.
Soon it will be your job, too. Our oath of office obligates us to serve our city and its residents according to the law—but we also serve according to our heart. Always stay honest, principled and fierce, and I know you will serve your community well.
Jocelyn Vare is an At-Large member of the Fishers City Council and was, with Sam DeLong, one of Fishers’ first-ever elected Democrats in 2019. The Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair, Dayna Colbert, will call a caucus of eligible precinct committee persons to vote for a new Democratic city councilor to represent the North Central district and fulfill DeLong’s term through 2023.