Democrat Chair: Columbus GOP Majority Comes With Risks

The Bartholomew County Democratic Party Chairman says near-total control by the GOP in the county will lead to higher standards for lawmakers.

Columbus City Hall Sign

Photo: WFIU News

Columbus city government will be mostly Republican for the next four years.

The chairman of the Bartholomew County Democratic Party says he does not oppose the appointments being made by new Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown, but says she should be aware of the precedent they may set.

Jaimie Johns says the large Republican majority in government in the county should be allowed to govern as it sees fit, but adds Mayor Brown must realize the responsibility such a majority carries.

“With an entire Republican city council, an entire Republican county council, an entire Republican administration for the City of Columbus,“their standards are set very high,” Johns says.

Brown is required by law to name some Democrats to appointed posts, but says she has deliberately picked some high-profile members of the opposition party – including Johns and former mayor Nancy Ann Brown. Mayor Brown insists her primary motivation to name anyone to an appointed post is that the person share her beliefs in how the city should be run.

“Most important is that they are like-minded with me in terms of being very open and respectful of public input and being as transparent as possible,” Brown says.

Johns calls Brown’s appointments – including his own – “bold” moves and even suggested naming high-profile Democrats might be controversial among the mayor’s GOP backers.

Johns says he will encourage county Democrats to work with the new administration and not against it. But he says the mayor and members of the city council can expect a challenge in four years if they are not able to use their dominance of local elective office to the area’s advantage.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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