HAMMOND — A pillar of Northwest Indiana's state legislative delegation for nearly four decades announced Tuesday he's retiring from the Indiana Senate, effective immediately.
State Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, did not specify in his resignation announcement why he's choosing to leave the Statehouse with less than 10 months remaining in his four-year term.
Records show Mrvan, 88, missed significant chunks of the 2019 and 2021 legislative sessions due to unspecified health issues, and the Republican-controlled General Assembly currently is employing no COVID-19 prevention measures during this year's 10-week session that began Jan. 4.
In any case, Mrvan said his long tenure in public service, starting as a Hammond city councilman, "would not have been possible without the support of my lovely wife Jean and countless others over the years who have allowed me to be the most effective leader I could be for the constituents of Northwest Indiana."
"Holding the public trust in elected office is an incredible honor and responsibility. Throughout my career, I have always placed a value on being able to listen to the concerns of constituents and be their voice in our state’s capitol."
Mrvan, a retired banker, has represented Hammond and surrounding communities in the Indiana Senate for all but four years since 1978. He's also the father of the Region's representative in Congress, U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland.
Congressman Mrvan said his father always has been his model of a dedicated public servant.
"His legislative approach and value of bipartisanship and pragmatism will continue to guide me and all those with whom he worked during his career," the congressman said.
Sen. Mrvan, a Korean War-era Air Force veteran, said it was an honor to regularly meet with and represent members of Indiana's veteran community, as well as public safety officers, first responders and the workers of Northwest Indiana.
"I did everything possible to support the members of organized labor, who built not just the foundation of our economic infrastructure, but who have been instrumental to promoting the strength of our manufacturing base, health care industry and public education classrooms," Mrvan said.
"Their contributions and the dignity of all of these workers must never cease to be recognized."
Democrats generally have few opportunities to shape public policy in the Indiana Senate since Republicans control 39 of the 50 seats and tend to prioritize GOP legislation over measures filed by Democrats.
Nevertheless, Mrvan in recent years was able to get several proposals aimed at protecting children and vulnerable adults incorporated into Republican-sponsored legislation that eventually was signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Mrvan credited his success to long-standing friendships and partnerships with his Senate colleagues, legislative staff, Indiana governors, and engaged voters from Senate District 1 — relationships he hopes to continue in the years ahead.
"As our Region, state, and nation continue to face unprecedented challenges in relation to our health, education and economy, I will continue to do all I can to be engaged in these issues, and supporting the incredible work of our Northwest Indiana nonprofits and charitable organizations that make a difference for so many individuals and families," Mrvan said.
At the same time, Mrvan said he looks forward to "spending more time with all of my supportive family members, children and grandchildren in retirement."
Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said Mrvan's "commitment to Hoosiers will be missed by our entire caucus."
"During his time in the Legislature, Sen. Mrvan was a tireless advocate for Hoosier families," Taylor said. "Over decades of service, he strengthened protections for children, expanded veterans' benefits and employment, worked to create a state tax-friendly to senior citizens and passed legislation to make transportation safer and more efficient statewide."
Senate President Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, likewise praised Mrvan as "a faithful public servant for the people of Northwest Indiana for many years," and added, "I am truly grateful to have served alongside him."
"Always a gentleman, Sen. Mrvan conducted himself with integrity and kindness, and though we will miss him, we certainly wish him all the best in his retirement," Bray said.
Mrvan's retirement creates an immediate vacancy in Senate District 1, which currently includes south Hammond, Munster, Highland, Griffith, Dyer and Schererville, that must be filled in the next 30 days at a caucus of the district's Democratic precinct committeemen.
Lake County Democratic Chairman Jim Wieser said he hopes the new senator will be able to quickly step into Mrvan's shoes for the remainder of this year's legislative session and successfully defend the reshaped district at the 2022 general election.
Mrvan was not expected to run in this year's elections because his Hammond home last year was shifted into Senate District 2, served by state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, during the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative district boundaries.
The new 1st Senate District moved a bit south and now encompasses all of Highland, Griffith, Dyer, Schererville, St. John and the southwestern portion of Merrillville.