Democrats name La Porte man to county council

Photo by Ted YoakumLa Porte's Sean Quinn addresses a packed room inside the Swanson Activity Center Thursday night, shortly after the La Porte County Democratic Party elected him as the newest member of the county council. Party leaders voted to have the attorney fill the vacancy left by former councilman John Sullivan, who resigned after pleading guilty residential entry last month.

La PORTE — A local attorney is promising to make "an immediate impact" upon assuming his newly won seat on the La Porte County Council.

After three rounds of voting, leaders with the county Democratic Party selected La Porte's Sean Quinn to fill a vacancy on the council during a special caucus Tuesday at the Swanson Activity Center in La Porte. Quinn will serve the remaining term of former at-large councilman John Sullivan, who resigned from the position last month after pleading guilty to residential entry.

A lifelong Democrat, Quinn currently serves as a lawyer with South Bend's SouthBank Legal. A 10-year resident of the county, he lives in Center Township with his wife, Megan, an anesthesiologist at La Porte Hospital, and their three children.

Before the vote, the attorney made his case before the party members assembled for the caucus. 

The council will give Quinn the perfect opportunity to combine his professional experience with his values in collegiality and leadership, he said. 

The La Porte man told the party that if he were elected, they would see an immediate impact when he joins the council. Within his first 90 days in office, Quinn intends to meet with every county leader to find out how the board can better assist their department, he added.

"As I do in all aspects of my life, I do my homework before making decisions," he said. "I'm not into posturing or grandstanding for the cameras. Rather, I value solid decision making and tapping into the expertise and expertise of other elected officials, our county department heads and citizens in our community."

Quinn will also vet every funding request the council receives against strict criteria, he said. These standards include that the appropriation is financially and environmentally responsible, that it serves the needs of the county's underserved population and that it is transparent, honest and legal. 

"If there are any red flags when answering these questions...I will not hesitate to deny a request or demand that folks go back to the drawing board and provide a better alternative plan," Quinn said. "I'll work collaboratively and respectfully with our county departments in that process."

Quinn was one of four Democrats seeking to fill Sullivan's council seat during Thursday's caucus. Also running were former county Democrat Party chair Jim Kimmel, Center Township Board of Trustees President Scott Ford and Michigan City Human Resource Director Andrea Kosco-Smith.

Officials needed to cast their ballots three times before selecting Quinn, as party rules dictate a candidate must receive at least 51% of the vote to win. Ford and Smith were eliminated from contention following the first and second ballots, respectively, as they received the least number of votes those two rounds.

With the field pared down to just Quinn and Kimmel, the La Porte attorney emerged victorious, receiving 39 votes to the former party chair's 33.

The newly elected councilman will serve the remainder of Sullivan's term, which expires at the end of 2020. Quinn suggested that he will run for the position in next year's election as well, pledging that he will serve for "as long as the citizens of the county vote for me."

Following his victory, Quinn thanked his fellow Democrats for their support and asked for the party's continued help and expertise upon taking his seat on the council. 

"I'm going to work hard to make sure this party really has our values represented on the county council," he said. "I'll work hard for all of you."

The La Porte County Council meets next at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28.

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