Kokomo Common Councilman At-Large Steve Whikehart announced he will not be completing his first term in office.
Whikehart previously said this year he didn’t intend to seek a second term on the common council. However, due to changing personal circumstances, the at-large councilman said he now needs to cut his term short. Via press release, Whikehart said he’s stepping down effective May 23. His last meeting on the common council will be May 20.
“It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve on the city council,” said Whikehart. “Therefore, this is not a decision that I made lightly. Both my wife and I have accepted new jobs recently, and I must make the decision that is best for my family. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my hometown.
“It has been a pleasure to have worked with such a progressive and innovative city council and with Mayor Goodnight and his administration. Kokomo has grown by leaps and bounds these last few years. This is because of the hard, thoughtful work and planning by the council and the administration. It is my hope that this group of leaders continues to move our city forward.”
As a result of a new job he’s taken in Carmel, Whikehart said he and his family would soon be relocating to Hancock County. As a result, he would not be eligible to serve on the common council due to living outside of the city limits. His previous announcement in January that he wouldn’t seek a second term came for similar reasons. At the time he claimed changes in his career and personal life would make it difficult for him to devote the time necessary to serve on the council.
Whikehart made it clear that the decision to step down was not an easy one.
“This was the hardest decision of my life,” said Whikehart. “I considered living apart from my family to finish the term, but knew that wouldn’t be fair to them or to the community. Ultimately, it came down to what’s best for us and what will be the least disruptive to my son’s schooling. And stepping down, as hard as it is, is what’s best for us.”
The freshman Democratic council member quickly rose to prominence on the local political scene in 2015, garnering the most votes on a crowded at-large ticket. Among six at-large candidates during that year’s municipal election, Whikehart brought in 19 percent of the votes.
While serving on the council, Whikehart also proved to be a shaker in leading the way on multiple progressive policies within Kokomo. The freshman councilman, most notably, sponsored legislation to provide civil rights protections to local LGBT residents. Whikehart carried that legislation through two highly-contentious public meetings, with the measure eventually passing through the council on a 5-4 vote.
In his release, Whikehart also championed his work in modernizing the city code, eliminating or modifying many outdated ordinances, such as a local ban on pinball machines. Prior to the changes Whikehart led, pinball machines were illegal within the city.
Whikehart also touted his vote on the smoke-free workplace protections. The Howard County Board of Commissioners led that effort, but the city council was required to pass a resolution allowing the county ordinance to take effect within the city limits.
“The Howard County Democratic Party wants to thank Councilman Steve Whikehart for his service to the City of Kokomo,” said Howard County Democratic Party Vice-Chairman Steve Geisleman. “We also want to congratulate him on his new endeavor. Councilman Whikehart is proof that dedicated public servants can have a tremendous impact even in a short amount of time. His accomplishments as councilman will be felt in our community for decades to come."