By Sheila Selman
GOSHEN — Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman announced during Founder’s Day Wednesday that he is resigning later this year.
He will be assuming the role of CEO of Lacasa Inc., which is based in Goshen.
Although Stutsman has enjoyed his time as mayor, he’s ready to decompress. He gave an emotional speech during Wednesday’s Founder’s Day Celebration and Luncheon at Maple City Chapel before hundreds of people he’s worked with over the years.
“In December of 2022, I had a long discussion with my family, Maija, Boden and Pippin, and decided that I would not seek re-election after this next term,” he said. “While I love my work, it takes an immense amount of time and brings a high degree of stress. My job reminds me of the quote in the book, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’: ‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.’ Being the mayor has truly been the best and yet the most demanding job I have ever had.”
His new role as CEO of Lacasa combines both of his careers: construction and renovation and public service.
Stutsman started off his political career as the city’s second youngest council member in 2008. He later became the city’s youngest mayor in 2016. He announced in 2014 he would seek the office when then-Mayor Allan Kauffman announced he would not seek re-election after 18 years in office.
A 1996 graduate of Goshen High School and a 2000 graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis, Stutsman owns Lofty Ideas Construction and has been a big part of restoring buildings in Goshen, particularly downtown.
About four weeks ago he was offered this new opportunity at Lacasa.
“It brings together my 18 years of construction and renovation experiences, my 22 years of serving on boards and commissions throughout our county, state and nation, and my 16 years of elected service,” he said.
In the last several years that elected service has included, along with being mayor, serving as vice president of Accelerate Indiana Municipalities, a statewide group that represents cities and towns (he is slated to be president in 2024); was appointed to the nationwide Small Government Advisory Board to the EPA by the Biden administration; and received an appointment form Lt. Gov. Susan Crouch to represent all cities and towns on the state’s housing task force.
As Stutsman steps down, he will also be removing his name from the ballot in this year’s city election.
It is too late for his name to be removed from the primary ballots in May. However, he is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
A new candidate will be slated for the fall election to face the Republican challenger.
“While I am sad to leave my position, I am excited to take on a new challenge,” Stutsman said. “The need for housing in Elkhart County has become obvious over the last several years. As mayor, I have seen individuals who need help to get back on their feet. I have also worked with employers and leaders who have had generous hearts and who want to help and empower their employees when they need assistance.
“The synergy of providing and giving assistance to those who want to work, grow and give back creates a vibrant community. Having the opportunity to connect leaders with those in need to grow and build our community is an exciting process. The new job that I will be taking will allow me to actively help those in need within our community and county.”
Stutsman said he will be working with the next mayor during the transition process.
“Over the last couple of years, I have encouraged a person to run for Goshen City Council in hopes they would consider following me as mayor,” he said that. “I am excited to say this person is willing to step up for this community, bringing new skills and ideas to this position. This candidate has strong community connections, spent years bringing people together, has excellent organization and leadership skills, and will keep the management team of the city together. There is no doubt in my mind that they will help take Goshen to a more prosperous, inclusive and vibrant future.
“I have been humbled by the support I have received from the residents and businesses in Goshen,” he continued. “I now humbly ask you to transfer your support to this community leader as this person steps up on our behalf. Although I cannot share the name, they will make an announcement in the next couple of days.”
Stutsman said he will encourage transparency to the community surrounding the transition.
“For the next few days, we need time to finalize the transition plans and solidify appropriate dates,” he said. “As an initial step, I will appoint and announce a transition team that will help throughout this process. That team will be led by my good friend, Deputy Mayor Mark Brinson.
“I will also be offering my time, experience and knowledge to help throughout the rest of this year, answering questions of the design and intent of the current city budget, walking beside our new mayor as the projects continue to move forward, and helping to work through the process of creating the 2024 budget. We are currently working with those who will guide us through the appointment process of the Democrat precinct chair appointments.”
“I have enjoyed and valued being a servant leader in the city of Goshen,” he said. “My work has always focused on bettering our community — your family and my family — it has never been about party politics.”
The mayor’s speech, although a surprise to many in the room, was greeted with a standing ovation and many congratulations, handshakes and hugs.