Councilor José Evans switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. Evans, who represents District 1 on the northwest side of Indianapolis, has narrowed the Democratic majority from 16-13 to 15-14. Evans held a press conference with state GOP Chairman Eric Hoclomb and Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker announcing the party switch. At the press conference, it was also said that Evans was going to be able to meet with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus later in the day.
In an exclusive interview with radio personality Amos Brown, Evans doesn't shed a lot of light on why he switched or what pushed him to the Republican side of the isle.
Evans' repeatedly says he'll "have a seat at the table", but on what? Evans recently voted against several charter school expansions on the council, all of which passed with wide support from councilors. Is he going to have a seat at the table with education reform both at the city and state level which he has very different views on then most elected GOP officials?
Will he "have a seat at the table" in labor issues? Council Democrats were heavily supported by organized labor in 2007, and it is one of the few larger issues that does come into municipal governance with so many facilities in the downtown area that use low wage labor to support the sports and convention industries. Several proposals to support hotel workers in the downtown area have been shot down, either by past GOP council majorities or by the veto pen of Mayor Greg Ballard. In the larger landscape of Indiana, a group of pro-labor Republicans called the Lunchpail Republicans were largely unsuccessful in primarying legislatures who were proponents of the 2011 Right-to-Work law.
Will he "have a seat at the table" when it comes to government reform in Marion County? Evans was very non-descript on how he felt of the Indiana legislature's proposed consolidation, which would give Acting Mayor Ryan Vaughn unprecedented control over the budget of the county without any meaningful legislative oversight. And a provision in the Senate version of the bill would take away the At-Large council seats in time for the 2019 municipal elections.
An issue he cited at both the GOP press conference and in the Brown interview was the Meadows TIF. The Meadows, which is the neighborhood roughly around 38th and Keystone, was proposed to be put into a TIF so that development, specifically a grocery store, could be put in the area. The initial measure was sponsored by Councilor Steve Talley and Councilor Christine Scales. The TIF did not have support from either the Democrats or Republicans and never made it to a vote on the full council or committees. But Evans still could've co-sponsored the proposal, but he didn't. The substitute proposal for the Meadows, which would've taken $3 million in RebuildIndy funds to support a grocery store and other projects, also didn't have Evans as a co-sponsor.
During Brown's interview, he said that if Broad Ripple gets a TIF, then so should the Meadows. He voted for the so-called Midtown TIF.
I understand that Evans doesn't want to air "dirty laundry" from Democratic caucuses. And because of that, perhaps we'll never really know why Evans' has these issues he's super passionate about, but seemingly never got his voice heard on, or why he never made any public declaration of them.
I would like to revise one stance I took on Twitter the other day. I don't think this is a purely political decision made by Evans. I have my doubts that he'll actually run for re-election. It just leaves me scratching my head and I wonder who does this benefit, and I really don't see any individual or group benefiting from this party-switch in either the short or long term.