Republican caucus to decide next Jasper mayor


JASPER — If Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz didn’t give state Sen. Mark Messmer a heads up that he was considering joining U.S. Senator-elect Mike Braun’s administration, Messmer would have been as surprised as the rest of the city when Seitz announced his forthcoming resignation on Thursday morning.

“If I had just initially heard it today, I probably would have been shocked,” Messmer, the Dubois County Republican Party chairman, said with a laugh. “I had a little advance warning.”

Nancy Eckerle

He is happy for Seitz, who was initially elected mayor in 2011. Messmer said working with Braun is a great opportunity for him.

The move will also open the door for another local leader to step forward. Jasper’s next mayor will be named before the calendar flips to 2019.

Seitz’s replacement — who will finish out the one year remaining on the current mayor’s term — will be elected by a Jasper Republican precinct committee caucus vote that will be held between Wednesday, Dec. 26, and Monday, Dec. 31.

Notice of the exact date will be given at least 10 days in advance. Seitz will resign on Tuesday, Jan. 1. The new mayor will be sworn in with other new officeholders on one of the first days of January.

Kevin Manley

If the caucus vote results in a tie, Messmer will cast the breaking vote.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, the county’s Republican chairman had already heard interest expressed from one potential replacement: Nancy Eckerle, who currently sits on the Jasper Common Council. The Herald reached out to the other Republican members of the council and learned that Kevin Manley and Dean Vonderheide will decide next week if they will put their names in to fill the mayoral vacancy. Councilman John Bell will not pursue the position.

Dean Vonderheide

Prospective candidates must fill out and send an official declaration of candidacy form to Messmer’s home address at 795 E. Scherle Lane in Jasper. Those forms are available at the Dubois County Clerk’s Office and at Messmer’s office at Messmer Mechanical in Jasper.

They must be submitted at least 72 hours before the caucus. Those hoping to fill the position must also live in the city of Jasper and are required to have voted in a Republican primary the last time they voted in a primary election.

“I know we’re going to have great, qualified people that are going to step forward and be ready to take over,” Messmer said.

A Jasper mayoral election is set to take place in fall 2019.

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