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WVPE News

St. Joseph County Commissioner Andy Kostielney names August resignation date

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FILE PHOTO: Jennifer Weingart
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WVPE News

Longtime St. Joseph County Commissioner Andy Kostielney announced his resignation to the County Council Tuesday.

Kostielney was appointed to fill the District 1 vacancy on the Board of Commissioners in 2009. He went on to be elected to full terms in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

The District 1 seat is up for re-election again in November, but Kostielney announced late last year that he wouldn’t seek another term. During his State of the County address Tuesday, Kostielney told the council his last day as commissioner would be Friday, Aug. 26.

“I would like to thank each of you for your relationship over the years — be it how limited or how broad — and for your commitment to the citizens of St. Joseph County,” he said.

Kostielney said he was proud of the county’s work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged county officials to continue investing in key personnel. As part of that push, Kostielney recommended the county hire a full-time administrator — a proposal he said will come before the council next month.

He also encouraged county officials to continue investing in a county-wide mental health response system. The county approved $2.7 million in American Rescue Plan funding for a 24-hour crisis response center late last year.

“Aside from helping those in need, it is less expensive to get people the help they need versus putting them in jail. Everyone wins,” he said.

Kostielney ended his address by commenting on what he characterized as an increase in political division during his time in office — he said politics had become a “blood sport” rather than a “full contact sport,” and encouraged residents to look past their differences.

“We have no problem going after the things we disagree with, and we’re also very passionate about the things we think are right,” he said. “But what’s missing is going out for a beer afterward. We need to treat each other better and agree that sometimes, we’ll just disagree, and that’s okay.”

The St. Joseph County GOP will now choose a replacement to fill the remainder of Kostielney’s term — possibly Carl Baxmeyer, who won the Republican primary for District 1 Commissioner. Donald Westerhausen won the Democratic nomination.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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