FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne city councilman Glynn Hines held his State of the 6th District Address Saturday morning. The annual event reflects on the past year while looking ahead to future projects.
Councilman Hines calls it a day of accountability. He said it’s day where he can share information with the southeast side of Fort Wayne, and they can provide feedback in return.
“Last year and the year before, I said here’s what I want to do that year and then I come back the next year, and I provide data. It’s empirical data that says we spent this many dollars in this area on this project. So, if I don’t do it, the citizens can say wait a minute, you weren’t accountable. I don’t look at it as pluses and minuses. I look at those things that we were able to do that brought a quality of life improvement to the district, and I continue on,” Hines said.
Hines also uses the event to reinforce the idea of servant leadership, a theme he said has shaped his leadership career.
“It’s not where elected officials make a decision and then afterwards ask for input. I think servant leadership is when you go out front and approach the community and citizens for their input, take it into consideration, and then make a decision that has positive impacts,” Hines said.
When looking back at 2014, Hines said he’s most proud of the McMillen Community Center. It’s a project that took three years of planning and opened in June 2014. Other items on the agenda included the repeal of collective bargaining and the decrease in crime. Hines said collective bargaining didn’t save the city any money because it didn’t include public safety employees.
“It was just on the hands of the civil servants on the lower end of the rung that were denied their ability to negotiate through collective bargaining. That was a false pretense, and if we get the majority Democrats on council, I commit to that being my first piece of legislation in 2016,” Hines said.
Looking ahead to this year, Hines said he’s most excited about the McKinney Street development which sits in the old, condemned McMillen Park Apartments.
“If you would take the Renaissance and replicate that, that’s what we want to do over there on McKinney which is now green space,” Hines said.
Of the city’s 12 homicides in 2014, 9 happened on the southeast side. However, that’s down from 32 homicides in Fort Wayne in 2013. 2013 was also a record-breaking year for homicides in Fort Wayne and Allen County.
“That element that continues to take crime as their way of life, we need to eradicate that. We want to help them if they want to be helped, but we want to eliminate them if they’re in the way of progress,” Hines said. “I think that Derrick Westfield, Chief Hamilton, and Public Safety Director Rusty York are doing a good job in attacking crime and those criminal elements and eradicating them for the entire community, especially in the southeast quadrant.”
The southeast side takes up 17.2 square miles. It’s the smallest quadrant in the city, but takes 32 percent of all police calls.
“We are very busy,” Deputy Chief for the Southeast Division of the Fort Wayne Police Department Derrick Westfield said.
Westfield said that even with that high call volume, crime is decreasing.
“The increase of the citizen involvement has really helped us in identifying these subjects and individuals so that we can get them off the streets,” Westfield said.
Westfield also said the initiative to tear down more than 300 blighted homes will continue to help bring down crime.
“A lot of times you’ll get the homeless or drug activity in these homeless houses. People are going there, they are selling drugs, prostitution, just all types of things goes on in those houses. Tearing them down is not only going to make the community look better, it’s going to keep those individuals out of that drug activity and things like that,” Westfield said.
Westfield hopes these projects help continue to change the reputation of the southeast side of Fort Wayne.
“The southeast part of town has very, very dedicated people. So many times, we get a bad image of the southeast part of town, but it’s not like that and that’s just what we’re working on to change that image,” Westfield said. “We’re going to continue to do what we have to do to make the citizens of Fort Wayne and the citizens of the southeast part of town feel safe in their community.”
Councilman Hines said he’s also focused on bringing more jobs and affordable housing to the southeast side throughout the next year.