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‘Racial inclusiveness’ could be key factor in caucus vote to fill open seat on Allen County Council

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3-term Republican Party convention delegate Emery McClendon seeks to win a party caucus and capture an open seat on Allen County council.
Attorney Apryl Elizabeth Underwood got the endorsement of GOP Chairman Steve Shine for the county council seat vacated by Larry Brown.

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - The county's top Republican leader was hoping a Monday evening caucus could score a win for diversity and repair damage to the local GOP'S image on race relations.

The event was scheduled to try and pick a replacement for Larry Brown.

18 GOP precinct committeemen and women were expected to decide the outcome.

It has been a painful chapter in the long history of Republican politics in the county.

Last month, long-time councilman Larry Brown, who represented District 4 on county council, caused an uproar over comments he made at a public meeting streamed on Facebook.

There was a discussion going on about the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Fort Wayne.

Brown identified the protesters as "uneducated voters" on local government issues and followed up by saying, "Unfortunately, they also breed."

The comments were viewed by many people as racially offensive.

Brown resigned a few days later.

The causus is set up to name his successor.

GOP Chairman Steve Shine broke with standard practice by endorsing local attorney Apryl Elizabeth Underwood.

But two other people are also running, including three-term Republican Party convention delegate Emery McClendon.

"I've talked to almost every precinct chairman and they seem to be very excited about the process, they are especially excited about the make-up of who's running, and they're looking forward to being there tonight. A lot of them were very positive toward my message and we'll see tonight what the outcome will be," McClendon said in the lead-up to the caucus.

Underwood has top credentials and like McClendon is African American, something highly valued by Shine, who wants to demonstrate that the local GOP is more diverse and inclusive following the controversy involving Larry Brown.

Local businessman Chris Spurr is the third candidate for the job.

Spurr and Underwood did not return calls seeking comment about the caucus.

If none of the candidates was able to get the necessary 10 votes to claim victory in round one, the 3rd place finisher was scheduled to be eliminated before a second round of voting designed to nail down a winner.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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