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St. Joseph County Republican Party chair stepping down

Tyler Gillean is stepping down as chair of the St. Joseph County Republican Party later this month.
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Tyler Gillean is stepping down as chair of the St. Joseph County Republican Party later this month.

Tyler Gillean was thrust into the role of St. Joseph County GOP chair amid tragedy in 2022 when former chair Zach Potts, U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski and staffer Emma Thomson died in a car crash in Elkhart County.

Now after nearly two years in which the Republican Party has seen significant gains in the county, Gillean is stepping down at the end of the month to spend more time on his career and personal life.

"It's become so big in the last two years, it honestly needs a full-time CEO," Gillean said. "There were weeks I was doing 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week. Not really conducive to a career."

Gillean was the Republican Party’s vice chair in early August 2022 and recalls how he had to start fresh in the aftermath of the crash.

“Zach died with everything — the laptop which had all of our contracts, our email accounts, the strategies, everything was on that," Gillean said. "So, had to start from scratch really and just run with it.”

In Gillean’s time as chair, the Republican Party has done well in St. Joseph County. Following the 2022 election, Republicans hold all three county commissioner seats, a majority of the county council, as well the clerk and assessor’s offices for what is believed to be the first time in history.

But Gillean said the time commitment of fundraising and organizing became too consuming and he is resigning to take a step back and focus on his career with River Valley Construction. A moment that crystallized Gillean's decision for him was when he was taking phone calls at his niece's birthday party and his sister told him "You're here, but you're never really here."

The party will caucus in a new chair and Gillean said details for that will be released in the coming weeks.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.