Hours after he was arrested for drunk driving on Monday, State Representative John Kivela (D-Marquette) was found dead Tuesday morning. The Detroit Free Press reports that Kivela’s body was discovered at a home he owned in Lansing. He was 47 years old.
The Free Press report indicates that his death may have been a suicide.
Kivela was in his third and final term serving the Marquette area in the Michigan House of Representatives. He had recently announced that he would run for the State Senate seat being vacated in 2018 by Republican Tom Casperson. Prior to his election to the House, Kivela served as the mayor of Marquette, and as a Marquette city commissioner. He leaves behind his wife, and two grown children.
His OWI arrest in Clinton County Monday was the second in the past two years. In each case, police said he tested well over the legal limit. After his first arrest in 2015, he acknowledged that he had a “lifelong” problem with alcohol, and promised to seek help.
In a Facebook post, Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) said: “It comes with a heavy heart to share the news of the passing of my colleague, State Rep. John Kivela. John served his district with pride and fought for the U.P. everyday. He was a loving husband and father. My prayers are with his family during this time.”
House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) issued this statement: “I am deeply saddened at the passing of state Rep. John Kivela. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Sandy, and his two children. He was a champion for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a strong advocate for working people throughout Michigan. He was my friend, and I will miss him. We will always remember the impact that he made on this institution and the state of Michigan.”
The Michigan Democratic Party released the following statement today, on behalf of Party Chair Brandon Dillon: “We are deeply saddened to learn of John Kivela’s death. Having served with John in the legislature, I know how much he cared about his family, his friends, and the people he served in Marquette. Our hearts, prayers, and deepest condolences go out to his wife, Sandy, and his children, Shelby and Andrew.”