The Indianapolis City-County Council elected Stephen Clay as its president Monday night.
The council votes on a new president, vice president, and clerk at its first meeting of the year. Clay, a Democrat, was successful in his bid this year, with bipartisan support. The council voted 14-11 in his favor, defeating incumbent and Democrat Maggie Lewis.
This comes after the blog IndyPolitics and other publications reported allegations Clay sexually assaulted a teenaged member of his congregation 15 years ago. Clay denies the allegations and says he believes the council can move forward.
“Certainly won’t distract me. And I don’t think it distracted the people that voted,” Clay says.
Clay claims the allegations were fueled by Lewis’s bid to keep her position as president.
Lewis says she found out about the sexual allegations at the time they were reported.
“I’m just saddened that this young man’s bravery is now overshadowed by politics,” Lewis says.
Clay’s election occurred against the backdrop of the council’s reaction to charges of child molestation filed against Republican council member Jeff Miller. Members of the council asked Miller to resign. Republican Minority leader Mike McQuillen says there’s a difference between the two.
“Councilor Miller was charged with a crime. President Clay has not been,” McQuillen says.
Both Lewis and Clay say they are committed to putting the needs of the city ahead of their feelings about the election.
Zach Adamson was elected vice president and Na’Trina DeBow was elected clerk. The next council meeting is Jan. 29.