Who will replace Mayor Rea? Caucus to be planned

Big changes could be coming to the Princess City after Mishawaka Mayor Jeff Rea announced he is resigning.

He's taking a job as the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

Rea announced his decision Monday morning at a news conference. He began his career in Mishawaka in the Department of Redevelopment. The Mishawaka native was elected mayor in 2003 at the age 33, becoming the youngest mayor in Indiana.

Now, he's 41, recently married, and moving on to become the Chamber leader.

The big question revolving around the Princess City now is who will take over for Mayor Rea?

Today the mayor submitted his letter of resignation. That means the Republican Party will now start planning a caucus to pick his replacement.

St. Joseph County Chairman Chris Riley says the caucus will be held in about a month with twenty precinct chair persons gathering to pick a person.

“Ultimately what I want is for a good slate of candidates to emerge and for the precinct chairs to have to make a tough decision because they are going to be picking between highly qualified, capable individuals,” says Riley.

Fellow Republican leaders say Rea's shoes will be hard to fill considering he's spearheaded several projects during his 6 years as Mayor.

“He has that forward thinking and forward looking on his mind all the time and it will be big shoes to fill,” says Mishawaka Street Department Commissioner Mike Watson.

“He is not only a leader I respect but I think one of the finest mayors you'll find not only in the city but in the country,” said Republican Mishawaka City Council Member Dave Wood.

Sunday night the Republican Party started courting candidates before the announcement was made the following morning. Riley said Wood is one of the possible candidates being tapped for the position. In an interview on Monday Wood said he had yet to make a decision about whether he would file or not.

Anyone interested can apply by sending a letter to the St. Joseph County Republican Party Headquarters in South Bend with background information.

Rea will officially resign as Mayor on September 7th, that's more than a year short of his second term.


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