Mike Jessen bids farewell to Porter County Council
Outgoing Porter County Council member Mike Jessen believes the county has accomplished at least as much during his eight years on the council as it had during the previous 20. "I don't say that do be braggadocious about it or say it was all Mike Jessen because it was far, far from that. It involved a lot of different people who were willing to work together, cooperate and collaborate," Jessen told the rest of the council Tuesday.
In his 18-minute farewell speech, Jessen said county government was dysfunctional when he was first elected. But county officials have since been able to work together to upgrade facilities, replace failing bridges and begin addressing roads and storm water infrastructure. They also set up a foundation to earn interest on the hospital sale proceeds.
Looking to the future, Jessen advised elected officials to continue working together — and avoid being torn apart over issues like solar farms, the renovation of the Memorial Opera House and other recent controversies. "We can't govern effectively in an environment or atmosphere of controversy or divisiveness. And we see it at the national level and we see it at the state level ad nauseam and we can't let that happen at the local level," Jessen said.
The rest of the county council also took turns honoring Jessen. Greg Simms commended Jessen's ability to have honest conversations and work with others.
"It didn't matter Republican, Democrat. It's what can we do for the county," Simms told Jessen. "You are definitely the epitome of that. And it's been wonderful for the community, that attitude, and it's going to work wonders at your Boys & Girls Club."
Jessen is stepping down from the county council as well as his position as Valparaiso city administrator to become the president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. He told council members that serving kids is his true passion.