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GOP caucus chooses next clerk-treasurer

CHESTERTON — Starting Jan. 1, the new clerk-treasurer will be one of the town employees who’s helped fill in for the current and ailing clerk-treasurer.

Stephanie T. Kuziela, the administrative assistant to Town Manager C. Bernard Doyle, will replace Gayle Polakowski, who’s held the office for almost 25 years.

Polakowski’s resignation for medical reasons becomes effective Dec. 31.

The Republican Caucus chose Kuziela on Monday out of three candidates who applied to fill the position.

“I’ve been working with the clerk-treasurer’s office for two years now, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And with my training, I thought it’d be a good fit,” she said.

She started part time with Chesterton in March 2009 and became full time in February 2010, creating the new position as she went along.

Her first degree is in business administration, and she plans to finish another bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision in spring.

When Kuziela approached Polakowski about running for the office next election, Polakowski liked the idea of training someone in-house, Kuziela said.

All candidates had significant business and government experience.

Suzette R Huyser now serves on the Westchester Township Board of Trustees and served as utility clerk for the Town of Porter for more than four years.

Former Porter Council President Bill Sexton spoke to the caucus about Huyser, saying that she was also his personal accountant for 11 years and reliable in all matters.

There were also no problems or minor ones in audits of the books Huyser kept for Porter, a change after years with problems, Sexton said.

“The council as a whole was very pleased with her abilities,” he said.

Thomas R. Kopko, who now serves on the town’s stormwater management board, has been an accountant and is certified for budget planning for businesses up to $300 million a year.

Kopko said the town needs more of a financial manager and not a clerk, and he pointed to his record in stormwater where they made repairs and had a cash reserve without raising taxes.

He graduated from Valparaiso University with a dual major of accounting and finance and a minor in economics.

The voting caucus members numbered eight, although 12 could be eligible.

Two positions were open, and two precinct committee members were sick.

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