City-County councilor to resign after state law bars him from seeking another term

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 29, 2014)-- Indianapolis City-County Councilor Vernon Brown announced he will resign from the council at the end of this week.

The resignation, effective Aug. 1, resulted from a recent state law that forced him to choose between the council and his job with the Indianapolis Fire Department.

"It was a difficult decision," Brown told FOX59. "You know, being on the council for 10 years and 7 months, you know what I mean? It was a big part of my life and I enjoyed it. It was an honor and a privilege to serve the people on the east side."

Brown will continue to serve the City of Indianapolis. He's been a firefighter for more than 33 years and currently holds the rank of battalion chief and works as a safety officer.

"My job is to make sure that on the scene of an emergency that firefighters go home safely," he said.

Over the years, Brown says he had to request vacation time in five-hour increments in order to attend City-County Council meetings. He estimates that about half of his vacation time with the fire department was used for council meetings.

But a state law passed in 2012 would have prohibited Brown from seeking another term. It says a person can not work for a city agency while holding a seat on the same council that writes that agency's budget. Marion County Democrats are already discussing the choosing of Brown's replacement until the next municipal elections in 2015. That decision, Brown says, will be made more complicated by upcoming redistricting.

"If they take my place now, they'll have five months as district councilor in District 18," Brown said. "Then in January, they'll have to file to run in District 14."

The resignation comes as fierce debate continues over how to boost the ranks of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. As a firefighter for more than 30 years, he says the topic of public safety funding is one of his top priorities.

"Those are issues that hopefully I'll have some input in," he said. "But I won't have a vote."

Brown says leaving the council now will also give him time to run for Warren Township Trustee against Republican Mike Heady.

Brown also says he does not agree with the state law barring him from seeking another term, as it applies to Indianapolis. He believes the law was intended for smaller communities with smaller councils.

He's not the only democrat on the council forced to make a similar decision about their future.

Steve Talley (D- 11th District) works for the city as a crime analyst.  He is planning to leave the council as he runs unopposed for Lawrence Township Trustee.

Mary Moriarty Adams (D-17th District) works in the Marion County Assessors Office.  She has not announced whether she plans to seek another term on the council.

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