Dems Attack Outgoing Commissioner Fighting Cancer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The St. Joseph County Democrat Party took to social media to lie and attack outgoing 1st District Commissioner, Republican Andy Kostielney, who announced last week that he will not run for re-election due in part to a years long battle with cancer.

Despite Kostielny’s announcement several days earlier, the Democrat Party posted this to Twitter on Monday: “Tomorrow at 10am is the public county council meeting on redistricting. Conveniently, Commissioner Andy Kostielney is very supportive of maps that drew his opponent, @Jcritchl (former County Democrat Party Chair, Jason Critchlow), out of the district. Andy knows he can’t win at the ballot so he’s trying to win from his desk.”

While a new proposed district map has drawn Critchlow out of the 1st District, Kostielny held a news conference announcing he was not running for re-election nearly a week before the post from the official Twitter page of the St. Joseph County Democrat Party.

If the new map is approved, Critchlow would need to move in order to be eligible to run for the Commission seat in the 1st District.

The St. Joseph County Democrats later attacked Kostielney again. This time they admitted Kostielney had decided not to run for office again. However, instead of mentioning his health battles, the party said the following on Facebook:

“Smart move to quit when you are scared and know you won’t win! Too bad he made the voters pay one last time.” The post shows Kostielney holding a campaign sign created by Democrat operatives attacking him with his name on it. The signs were set up at the County-City Building. Underneath his name it says, “Cheats Voters.”

“I’m going to finish out my term, but I’m not going to seek re-election.” Kostielney told RNM during an exclusive interview on November 3rd. “It’s a decision for my health and for my family… the last election was pretty rough. The indication is this will be even rougher. I need to do what’s best for my family”

Kostielney’s term runs through 2022. By the end, he will have served on the County Commission for 14 years.

“(Healthwise) I’m doing good. I could be doing better.” Kostielney said. “In talking with my physicians and stuff. They really wanted me to kind of step away.”

Kostielney was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of prostate cancer about two years ago. He’s already gone through surgery and is currently still getting treatment.

“(Treatments) Are for sure going to last through the end of April. At my last appointment it was put out there that there is a realistic possibility that it’s going to be extended for a few months, if not a few years.” Kostielney explained.

RNM asked Kostielney last week if the current divisive political climate was also a reason for his decision.

“It doesn’t make it easy. 10 years ago when I ran, sure there were Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives and we didn’t always see eye-to-eye. But, it was easier to conduct business. It wasn’t so polarizing as it is now.” He said. “That’s one on the reasons why, from my family stand point, I didn’t want to put them through what would be a pretty vicious and nasty campaign. At least, from what I’ve experienced in the past, my opponents have never been very classy in how they’ve chosen to attack me and my family.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said the picture of Kostielney holding a campaign sign was a doctored photo. The picture is in fact real, however, the signs were not created by him and were being used as a disgraceful campaign tactic and waste of money against a commissioner who is not running for re-election due to his battle with cancer.

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