• By Kirk Gaw

Derek Dieter Campaigns Heavy In Walkerton Area For County Commissioner 2nd District

Incumbent, Democrat, Dave Thomas, is one of the three officials who comprise the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and is up and running for re-election this year. He represents the largest physical area that is the 2nd district.

The commissioners are elected from and represent separate districts for a term of four years. Thomas is being challenged in the May 5th Democratic Primary by former South Bend City Councilman Oliver Davis Jr. as Republican's Derek Dieter, and Jordan Budreau also, compete.

Derek Dieter is running as a Republican for St. Joseph County Commissioner 2nd District.

The "American Democracy Project of Indiana University South Bend" and the "League of Women Voters of the South Bend Area" are sponsoring a series of events that kick off Monday, March 9th with a debate among candidates for the District 2 seat and, will end March 30th with a "Meet the Candidates" forum.

The Monday night event begins at 6pm with debate and ends at 7:30pm in time for one-on-one chats in Room 1001, Wiekamp Hall, IU South Bend, 1800 Mishawaka Ave.

The large 2nd Commissioner District held by incumbent Dave Thomas is being challenged by Derek Dieter. It involves many communities spread by a vast rural area.

The Board of County Commissioners serve as the executive and administrative authority for the county. It operates and maintains all county facilities and property; negotiate contracts; permits all purchasing and claim payments; receives bids for construction projects and maintenance of roads and bridges; makes appointments to certain board and authorities; oversees certain election functions; prepares the annual county budget and serves on the Board of County Finance.

The Voter Registration deadline is April 6th in Indiana.

St. Joseph County Commission District-2 involves the most townships: Center, Greene, Liberty, Lincoln, Madison, Olive, portions of Penn, Portage, Union and Warren. It is the largest mass of area including, densely populated, downtown South Bend. But, it also, includes the most rural segments of St. Joseph County with New Carlisle far to the north, Ardmore, Crumstown, Gulliver Park, North Liberty, Lakeville, and Walkerton!

Derek Dieter wants to be visible for rural residents of the 2nd District seat. He challenges Democrat, Dave Thomas to represent all. (Photo by South Bend Tribune)

One candidate stands out from the four in the 2020 campaign. He is Derek Dieter, former Democrat South Bend City Councilman of 12 years and, Council President 5 years, turned Republican.

Derek Dieter wants to make an effort to get in touch with all rural citizens who reside in the 2nd District. He said, "I feel that, after dozens and dozens of voters told me, they are not being represented in St. Joseph County!"

"There is a lack of any accountability currently, in District 2 of the County Commissioners office."

"The unprofessionalism of the current commissioner has been another main theme from what I heard throughout government in the county and also, within the structure of towns located on the west side of St. Joseph County."

Derek Dieter is the current owner and CEO of Dieter Security on Portage Rd. He began his career as a cadet on the South Bend Police Department in 1975. He became a sworn officer in 1978 and, retired from the South Bend Police Department in February of 2014.

Derek with some of the Dieter girls in his life at a recent family event.

Derek Dieter has been honored with numerous awards at SBPD including "Policeman Of The Year" twice. He attended Holy Cross Grade School and Saint Joseph's High School in South Bend. Then he went on to Holy cross Junior College and later, graduated from IUSB where he holds an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice.

Derek met his wife of 29 years, Suzy, in Chicago. She was a Division 1 basketball player at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Suzy worked for 16 years as a cop. They both had 3 boys together. (2 girls from his first marriage.) While, he is running the security company Suzy, has been working her own painting business.

Derek is inspired to serve those who want their voices heard!

He said, "my plan is to be accessible and highly visible throughout the entire boundaries of the 2nd district."

"Talking and interacting with people daily gives a better sense of governmental unity."

"It makes the community a better place to live."

He added, "we must be able to work within the structure of government with each party and representatives being able to talk, communicate, and work within problems in a bipartisan manner."

Out for a walk with daughter, Lindsay. Derek understands needs of rural families.

I asked him about his plans to better serve the Walkerton Area community? He replied, "I've been in the Walkerton area to talk to citizens and officials about the needs of the town."

"Currently, county government needs to be there to assist local governments with what problems they may have arise within those communities."

"I plan to be only a cellphone call away from anybody who wants to speak about any issue regarding their community!"

"I will have a position in the Primary and, opposition in the general election."

"During the campaign all of my views, energy, and vision will set me apart from any challenger."

Derek is proud of his record and has kept involved with local causes. The election is demanding. While, campaigning he reflects on the times he has worked as a cop keeping his pulse on the local community and familys.

Derek Dieter doing community outreach with local kids in South Bend before he retired as a police officer in 2014. (Photo by South Bend Tribune)

He cares about inner-city South Bend youth and stays involved as founder of the IMPALA youth athletic program. It is an outreach from COPE - Community Oriented Police Enforcement. He and other volunteers took the aspiring kids in the 90's, for a trip on AMTRAK all the way to Washington DC. The goal was to immerse the kids with ideas about public affairs and inspire them in the nation's capitol.

Derek Dieter also, promoted area literacy with youth through the "Get Booked" program. He passed outs books from the trunk of a police car. The program attempts to build relationships between police and youth.

Derek said, "it’s one way I’m trying to get kids to run toward the police car instead of running away from it. I want them to see me coming and not be afraid and by coming into their neighborhoods and offering them books, it helps build trust and not fear."

Derek is also, the proud father of talented, middle son -- Kansas City Chiefs' wide reciever, Gehrig Dieter. Here, kissing the Lombardy trophy after the Superbowl. He, like his Dad is involved in keeping active with area youth through athletics.

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