two seats on city council filled

Thursday, December 21, 2017 14:48 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A former police chief and business owner are filling two vacant seats on the Michigan City Common Council.

Gene Simmons and Johnny Stimley were the resounding choices Wednesday night by 20 democratic precinct leaders in the city.

Simmons replaces Chris Schwanke, who left his 6th Ward council seat close to halfway through his second term to relocate to Arkansas.

Stimley fills the at-large seat vacated by the passing of Al Whitlow, a highly regarded longtime educator who was 78.

Whitlow was nearly two-years into his first term and served one previous stint on the council over 30-years ago.

There were five other 6th Ward candidates and nine others seeking the at-large position.

Simmons left as police chief in 2004 then worked security at Blue Chip Casino until retiring just recently.

He expressed strong support for the direction the city is heading in areas like downtown revitalization and tourism and vowed to give his very best effort.

''My passion is serving.That's what I do,'' said Simmons.

Stimley, owner of Ryan's Irish Pub at 4th and Franklin streets, has long been heavily involved in the community.

He's active with the Main Street Association and at the forefront with many activities and festivals like the annual Snowflake Parade.

Stimley, a former LaPorte County Recorder, is also past president of Washington Park Zoo.

He said one of his focuses will be capitalizing on assets like Lake Michigan, major highways and rail to help create more jobs.

''We can do this,'' said Stimley, who also pledged to work hard in other areas like youth development and healthier families.