Two seek Kosciusko County Council seat

Two people have filed applications to run for the at-large seat on the Kosciusko County Council opened up after the death of Bob Sanders.

Kosciusko County Republican Party Chairman Mike Ragan said he’s received declarations of candidacy from Paul Finley, Warsaw, and Tressa Nichols, North Webster.

The GOP caucus to fill the seat of the former county council president is set for at 7 p.m. June 7 at the old county courthouse.

Sanders died May 14 at the age of 69. He was elected to the council in 2005 and had served as council president the past four years.


Local Warsaw business manager and life-long Republican Finley announced his candidacy today for the seat.

In a news release, Finley said he offers a “common-sense understanding of both finance and personnel.”

He has degrees in accounting and business administration, and a Masters of Business Administration from Grace College. He has 28 years of experience as a business manager and controller at several local small businesses. Finley said he has a clear understanding of budgets and finances.

“I am a big-picture person. I have enjoyed helping business owners grow their businesses, which in turn grows our local economy,” he said.

Additionally, with a Master’s degree in human resources from Indiana State University, an adjunct faculty position at Grace and many years as a volunteer basketball and softball coach, Finley said he understands the human side of fact-and-figure decisions as well.

“These experiences have continually taught me how to work with others, with different personalities and different skill sets, while leading teams to a common goal,” he said.

He served as the treasurer for Heartline Pregnancy and as a past treasurer for Christ’s Covenant Church, where he has attended since 1990.

Finley’s wife of 27 years, Kay, is a certified public accountant and the vice president of Helvey & Associates. Their son, Zarek, is a law enforcement officer.

“Now that my son is grown and on his own, I want to give to the community that has blessed me and my family,” Finley said.


Nichols previously ran for the county Republican Party chair in summer 2016, which Ragan won, and for one of the three county council at-large seats in 2016. She ran for and served as a state delegate for the 2016 election.

She has been involved in local, state and national politics, testifying against Common Core at the State Senate hearings in 2013 and working on campaigns for Congressional Rep. Marlin Stutzman, State Reps. Curt Nisly and Christopher Judy, Fort Wayne Councilman Jason Arp, and candidate for Congress Pam Galloway.

“I had not really thought about running again, but I love going to county council meetings,” she said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Nichols said she’s been attending council meetings for the past 1-1/2 years, only missing three meetings, and enjoyed them.

“Bob embraced me and was kind to me and generous to me with his information. He really embraced me. He would invite me to county council activities they would have,” she said.

Since she attends the council meetings anyway, Nichols said she decided she might as well run.

“I like the process, I like being involved,” she said.

After she lost the county party chair race, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks asked her to sit on his Faith Leadership Advisory Council, which she said humbled her. She was asked to serve as secretary of the Kosciusko County chapter of the National Federation of Republican Women.

“I thought I wasn’t going to be able to be involved, but wanting to be involved opened doors for me,” Nichols said.

She and her husband, Brian, have six children.

“If I am elected to the county council, I would like to put more focus on educating the public on how the county functions. I think there is a disconnect between what people believe their elected officials do, and what actually happens. I think that needs to be fixed. Road funding will continue to be an issue in the coming years, and I will follow that closely. Aside from roads, a major priority for me will be to protect our religious freedoms at the county level. Most people don’t realize that our religious freedom is being attacked locally, as well as at the state and national levels. County councilors must not be distracted by grants from the federal government with strings attached that erode our freedoms,” she stated in a provided biography.