St. Joseph County Commissioners pick newcomer Carl Baxmeyer as president
The St. Joseph County Commissioners have picked newcomer Carl Baxmeyer as the body’s new president — a selection that caused some drama Tuesday.
Baxmeyer was sworn in on Saturday to serve the remainder of outgoing commissioner Andy Kostielney’s term after being chosen in a July Republican party caucus. He’s also the party’s nominee in the November general election for the seat, facing Democrat Don Westerhausen.
But Baxmeyer is now the new president of the St. Joseph County Commissioners, something Derek Dieter takes issue with. Dieter, who nominated himself to serve as president, criticized Baxmeyer’s selection as party politics.
Baxmeyer has never held elected office — he ran for mayor of South Bend in 1987, congress in 1992 and state representative in 2012 but lost those three elections.
“This is one of the bad things that I despise about politics,” Dieter said. “It’s a sad day in St. Joseph County Government when somebody is sworn in as a commissioner and three days later is appointed the president.”
In response, Baxmeyer said serving as a commissioner is all about building consensus and that Dieter was acting more like “one man rule.”
“I didn’t send out a press release three days ago, four days ago anointing myself as president,” Baxmeyer said, “That doesn’t show leadership, that shows disrespect for the other members of the board.”
But Dieter said he only did that because Kostielney told him that he would have Baxmeyer’s vote — and that the plan changed Tuesday morning due to pressure from local Republican party officials.
“The explanation I got today was that Mr. Baxmeyer was having heat from people within the party who didn’t like me to become the president,” Dieter said.
Baxmeyer denies that, saying that he only said he’d “consider” Dieter.
“But that’s different than support,” Baxmeyer said.
Vice president Deb Fleming said some may have expected her to go for the top spot as she’s now the body’s longest serving member.
But she said she didn’t want the presidency due to professional and family commitments and nominated Baxmeyer instead. He was confirmed in a 2 to 1 vote.
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