State Officials, Lawmakers Mourn Rep. John Kivela After Apparent Suicide

State lawmakers are mourning the loss of Democratic state Representative John Kivela of Marquette. Kivela apparently took his own life on Tuesday at a home he owned in Lansing. It was one day after his second drunk driving arrest in two years.

Friends, colleagues, and family members posted tributes on social media after his death. Many of them talked about Kivela’s personal struggle with alcoholism and the horrors of addiction.

His Lansing roommate state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) wrote a long Facebook post about Kivela as a friend and colleague. It included the following:

We’re all going to remember you for the memories we made with you, John. You made mistakes along the way but we all do. You had your demons and they got the best of you. I hope that others will learn from your story and get the help they need when they need it. Mistakes were made but that’s not the John I’m going to remember.

Warm smile, salt and pepper hair, Upper Peninsula charm, a bear in the Legislature.

That’s my John Kivela.”

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Michigan Public Radio Network State Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta about Kivela’s passing and the reaction in Lansing.

The mood here, as you might expect, is somber, grim,” says Pluta. “Kivela was a nice guy. He was well-liked. He was also bi-partisan enough that Republicans at least thought about maybe trying to recruit him as a Republican to run for the (state) Senate seat up there.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Office of state Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette)

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