MICHIGAN CITY — A former police chief and a business owner are filling two vacant seats on the City 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 when Al Whitlow, 78, a highly regarded longtime educator, died.
Whitlow was nearly two years into his first term and served one previous stint on the council more than 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 he retired recently. He expressed strong support for the direction the city is heading in areas such as downtown revitalization and tourism and vowed to give his best effort.
"My passion is serving. That’s what I do," Simmons said.
Stimley, owner of Ryan’s Irish Pub at Fourth 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, also is past president of Washington Park Zoo.
He said one focus will be capitalizing on assets such as Lake Michigan, major highways and rail to help create more jobs.
"We can do this," Stimley said. He also pledged to work hard in other areas like youth development and healthier families.