GOSHEN — Longtime Goshen City Councilman Jim McKee is saying farewell to his council seat — at least for now.
McKee, a Republican, made the announcement that he will be resigning from his council seat during Tuesday’s council meeting. He is currently finishing up his 10th year on the council as representative of District 1. His last day will be Sept. 8.
“I’m the longest-serving at the moment, and the oldest for some time, but I’ve bought a house that’s out of my district, and it won’t allow me to continue on being the councilman from District 1,” McKee said of the reasoning for his exit. “They’ll have to have a caucus and decide who they want to have (replace me).”
McKee noted that he will still be a resident of Goshen, and may very well run for election again in the future, albeit in a different district.
“I’m not necessarily dead in the water,” he said with a chuckle. “In a couple years there will be an election, and you never know what might happen.”
McKee went on to thank Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman and the other members of the council for their support and friendship over the years.
“I just thank you for your support,” McKee said. “Sometimes I’m sure I’m aggravating. I know I’m conservative by nature, and part of that is because I’m old. ... But I’ve appreciated my time working with Jeremy. We’ve locked horns a couple times along the way, but when everything is said and done, everybody on the council has always been respectful, and I appreciate that. So, I’ll be here through the end of the month or a little longer, if it takes it. But thank you.”
In response to the news, Stutsman thanked McKee for his service and acknowledged the friendship that has developed between the two over their many years of service.
“It’s been an honor to serve with you,” Stutsman said. “Thank you for serving, and we’ll work through the rest as it comes. And I appreciate our friendship we’ve grown over the years, too.”
Councilman Doug Nisley, R-District 2, offered a similar sentiment.
“You and I have been associates for quite some time,” Nisely said. “I appreciate what you’ve done for the city, and what you’ve done for me. Our friendship means a lot to me. So, don’t run off and run away.”
Councilwoman Megan Eichorn, D-District 4, acknowledged her sadness at McKee’s upcoming exit, noting that she has been friends with the McKee family for many years.
“I’m sad you’re leaving,” Eichorn said. “We’ve been friends for a very long time, and I love your family. I wish you hadn’t decided to move yet, but you can decide to run again I guess. But thank you for your service on the city council, and the time you’ve spent here, and all the good work you’ve done. I wish you all the best.”
Councilwoman Julia King, D-At Large, agreed, noting in particular her appreciation of McKee’s ability to remain calm under pressure, even when dealing with the most heated and contentious issues.
“I appreciate your calm demeanor, because you can always use calm when there are weighty issues,” King said. “So, I’ve always appreciated that. Thank you for your service.”
For his part, Councilman Brett Weddell, R-At Large, said he’s long considered McKee a mentor when it comes to his time on the council, and will continue to do so even after his exit.
“Jim, you’ve been a rock,” Weddell said. “When I ran for election the first time and lost to Mr. Everett Thomas in District 5, you were a rock. You got me through that. So, I appreciate that. You’re still going to be around. You’ll still be my rock.”
Councilman Gilberto Pérez Jr., D-District 5, noted that he first got to know McKee during the time they both served on the Goshen Plan Commission, and has continued to benefit from his advice during his time on the council.
“I still remember having lunch with you, and talking about some of the things I was interested in plan commission, and I don’t remember exactly what you said word for word, but it was more along the lines of, ‘Listen, learn, and then do things that you think are right for you and what you want to represent,’” Pérez Jr. said. “So, I wish you the best.”
Councilman Matt Schrock, R-District 3, rounded out the council’s comments by noting that he personally attributes much of his confidence in deciding to run for his council seat to McKee’s advice and friendship.
“If it wouldn’t be for him, I probably wouldn’t be in this position,” Schrock said. “We made some jokes about me making some comments about me wanting to sit up here, and Jim said, ‘Well, make a move and do it.’ So, here I am, and I just wanted to say I respect your guidance, and your wife’s guidance as well. I know you’re not going to be sitting across from me much longer, but I’ll still see you all the time. So, I look forward to that.”
McKee was first elected to the council back in 2011, and has served as District 1 representative ever since. He is a former Goshen firefighter, former manager for Sam’s Club and is the former owner of McKee’s Irish Pub and Bosco’s Place.
He and his wife Angie have three adult children.