Cockroft won’t seek reelection as Kosciusko mayor

By KAREN FIORETTI,

By the time Kosciusko Mayor Jimmy Cockroft leaves office next July, he will have served 24 years in that role. He also previously served one term as Kosciusko’s Alderman-At-Large.

Cockroft said that by then, he will be 64.5 years old and that he feels it is simply time for someone else to step into the role.

But retirement from office does not mean he will be moving to be closer to family in Madison, nor does it mean he will be at leisure fulltime.

“I’ve heard that I’m moving to Madison, but I’m not planning to move to Madison. My kids don’t even want me to move to Madison,” he said with a shake of his head and a laugh. “I plan to find something to do. I’m not going to go home and sit. I’ll look for something to occupy my time. I’ve never just had a lot of free time.”

Cockroft started working in retail since he graduated from high school in 1975, “including working a lot of weekends,” a circumstance that has continued through his years in elective office.

From 1997 to 2005, he owned Parker’s Shoe Shop on the square while serving his early years as mayor. He dedicated himself to the mayoral role fulltime in 2005.

Cockroft said he made his decision not to seek reelection early — six months before qualifying even begins — in order to allow a variety of people who might not have otherwise considered a run to think it through and plan for a potential campaign.

Qualifying begins in January and ends in March, giving potential candidates 60 days to file. A primary run-off is the first Tuesday in May and the general election will be the first Tuesday in June.

The new mayor will take office around July 1.

Cockroft said the most important characteristic for a good mayoral run is the ability to work with a variety of people, both as a manager of city employees and in dealing with the public.

“You have to be able to get along and deal with anybody and everybody,” the mayor said. “The one thing it taught me early on is to be brutally honest, but sometimes honesty makes you look arrogant.”

He said the hardest part of the job has always been getting good, detailed information into the hands of the public, despite the efforts of city officials and local media outlets.

The mayor said social media has only made the problem worse in recent years.

“What’s changed the most and made it tougher is social media and the lack of people checking to see what is or isn’t factual,” he said. “The city board tries to be open, but there is a lot of misinformation that gets out there.”

Cockroft said another challenge is keeping the city looking good.

“We don’t take as good care of our personal property like we used to,” he said.

The best part of the job?

“People. Helping people,” Cockroft said. “It comes down to people skills overall.”