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feikes elected new gop chairman

Monday, December 18, 2017 12:29 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Keeping the republican majority on the three member LaPorte County Commission is a high priority for the newly elected chairman of local members of the GOP.

Doing it will likely not be easy against democrat Sheila Brillson, a former

mayor and member of the common council in Michigan City for close to 16-years.

Mitch Feikes received 45 of the 62 votes cast Saturday by LaPorte County precinct committeepersons to become the county's new party chairman,

He pointed to the commission seat up for reelection in 2018 during his acceptance speech.

''We need that commissioners seat again. We need to work hard at it to get it done,'' said Feikes,

He replaces Nick Barbknecht, a 2009 Michigan City High School graduate leaving after less than a year as party chairman for a political strategist job in the nation's capital.

Also running were party secretary Dan Granquist of Michigan City and party vice-chairman Coral Laun of Kingsford Heights.

Prior to the vote, Laun urged everyone to elect Feikes who had the backing of state senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores, state representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie and former state representative Tom Dermody now running for mayor of LaPorte.

Feikes, the owner of a construction firm and former 20-year LaPorte School Board member, said he has the strength and leadership skills needed to fully unite the party, get more young people involved in the political process and make a positive impact on the challenging political races coming up.

One of his strategies is increasing the party's use of social media.

''I relish the opportunity,'' said Feikes, who referred to the words of the late president Ronald Reagan to begin motivating the party into the future.

''There are no constraints on the human mind. No walls around the human spirit. No barriers to our progress except those we erect ourselves,'' he said.

Brillson and her family moved to the state of Washington six months before her second term as mayor ended in 2003.

She returned two-years ago and in October announced her candidacy for the commission seat now held by republican Mike Gonder.

Gonder is not seeking reelection.

''Sheila is going to be a formidable candidate and it's going to be up to the republican party I think to provide the people of LaPorte County with another formidable candidate,'' said Leigh Morris, a former party chairman and mayor of LaPorte from 2004 to 2007.