Newcomers join incumbents in GOP bid for Union Twp. Board
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent April 18, 2014 6:52PM
Updated: May 20, 2014 6:03AM
UNION TOWNSHIP —Four Republican candidates face off in May for the three Union Township Board places on the November ballot.
Incumbents James Foreman, George J. Topoll, and Robert D. “Bob” Emery and political newcomer Bryan Waisanen are vying to be come the Republican candidates for the positions.
Each of them considers the township’s fire department and fiscal viability the most important issues of their office, although the responsibilities of township assistance and cemetery care are also important.
The township has some financial difficulties in the early part of this century.
Emery has lived in Union Township for 16 years and served on the board for more than three.
While this is his first attempt at public office, but he brings experience from various management positions at ArcelorMittal and has been active in the community as a Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts leader, soccer and baseball team coach and a member of Union Township School Corp. committees.
“I wanted to help the township provide efficient, effective service and (see) that there was no waste,” Emery said.
The board needs to provide more with fewer tax resources, he said, so the members must focus and what’s most important and give the most value for the tax dollar.
The volunteer fire department is most important, followed by township assistance for the needy, he said.
Foreman, a township resident for 21 years, began as a board member 18 months ago when Topoll asked him to fill in for a vacant seat.
Although retired for 10 years as a works controller for LTV Steel, Topoll thought his financial background and managerial experience over 30 to 40 people would help the township, Foreman said.
Although the township also cares for the park behind the old Wheeler school building, the main function is supporting the fire department.
Foreman used the recent audit where the department had to make some documentation changes as an example.
If the department couldn’t retain ISO certification, home insurance would rates go up, he said.
Topoll has been on the board since February 2004, shortly after retiring from his job as a forensic accountant and special agent with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation branch.
He’s lived in the Township since 1993 and is the Wheeler High School golf coach.
Topoll joined the township board because he thought his background would help.
Having four primary candidates is a good thing, because “I’m very supportive of getting more people involved in local government,” he said.
The coming issue is Valparaiso’s growth west towards the township, which means the township must decide its community identity.
“Where are we going and how do we get there,” he said.
Waisanen has more than 20 years experience in public service working in law enforcement for various communities and is now an officer with the Union Pacific Railroad.
He also works part-time as a Beverly Shores Deputy Marshall, and in his career, he has worked on matters between various Northwest Indiana municipalities and on the executive board of several organizations.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to use those skills (to help the township),” he said.
With tax revenue tight, Waisanen hopes to bring more accountability, although he sees nothing bad with current board members.
“Sometimes new eyes and new ideas can help organizations progress,” he said.