Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese talks about PD, not seeking re-election

NOW: Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese talks about PD, not seeking re-election

ELKHART, Ind.—Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2019.

Neese sat down with ABC57’s Clifton French to talk about his decision. Explaining it partly has to do with issues with the police department among other things, including his family.

“Let me say, I take responsibility for everything. I got 27 departments, 600 employees that report to me. If there is a situation that’s unflattering, then that’s on my shoulders.”

In the past year, 4 officers have been arrested or charged with a crime. Two officers are charged in an excessive force incident that came to light last month. One officer was arrested for allegedly harassing his estranged wife. One officer was arrested for OWI on Tuesday. Another officer was implicated in a potential drunken shooting just last week.

Neese requested and received the resignation from Elkhart Police Chief, Ed Windbigler earlier this month as well.

When asked if the drama with the department impacted his decision, Neese said, “Not necessarily, it was a lot of things. Certainly the police issue, also some economic development issues that I hadn’t been able to roll along as quickly as I had wanted. And, I want what’s best for the city and it’s my decision, I’m not going to look back. I felt like it was time for someone else to be mayor.” Adding, “I’ve had some failures. Nobody knows that better than myself. I just though after 3 years, it was time for someone else to succeed me… But I also hope that in the next year I have, I can get this resolved. So, I don’t have any intentions of ignoring any issue and then letting my successor be met with it. My hope is to resolve as much as I can, whatever it might be.”

"I don't blame him, if he wants to spend more time and enjoy being a grandfather and a father and he's got the time and means to do so I mean why not," Elkhart resident Matt Lavine said. 

Neese said in an announcement on Tuesday, “Serving as mayor of the City of Elkhart has been a great honor. Each day presents a new opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others. That has been my number one priority since the day I decided to run for mayor. My greatest achievement, however, has always been my family. The titles of dad and grandpa are more important than the title of mayor.”

Neese was elected mayor of the City of Elkhart in November 2015.

Neese helped move projects along such as the revitalization of downtown Elkhart but his administration also saw controversies such as the closing of the Tolson Community Center and the ongoing probe into two Police Officers that were charged with punching a handcuffed inmate who spit at them. 

Elkhart's 4th District Councilman Dwight Fish said despite Mayor Neese's announcement that he won't seek re-election there are still tasks the city has to address immediately.

"We're gonna have to deal with them sooner rather than later, we can't wait for another mayor, this mayor still has to do his job no matter that he's in a lame duck session if you will, he's gonna still have to deal with the issues," Fish said. 

Previously, Neese served as an Indiana State Representative and a member of the Elkhart City Council.

Mayor Neese’s current term expires December 31, 2019.

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