Dem Whitten to challenge incumbent Porter County prosecutor
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 13, 2014 2:34PM
Updated: July 15, 2014 6:10AM
VALPARAISO — Portage attorney Stacey Whitten announced Friday she will run for Porter County prosecutor on the Democratic ticket in November.
Whitten, the first woman to run for the office, will face Republican Brian Gensel, the incumbent, who was unopposed in the May primary. He was first elected in 2006.
Whitten has been a practicing attorney since 2005 and is a partner in the firm Whitten and Whitten with her husband, Dan Whitten, who is president of the Porter County Council. In a prepared statement, she said she spent several months contemplating a campaign.
“I have spent time talking to many individuals and families in Porter County as well as members of the criminal justice system, and I believe that a change is necessary in the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office.”
Whitten is a graduate of Indiana University and John Marshall Law School. She is a former public defender, and is an assistant city attorney and serves as city prosecutor, a position she’s held for seven years.
Whitten previously worked with struggling mothers and fathers in the Lake County IV-D Child Support Division and, while in law school, also worked in the Lake County Prosecutor’s Drug Unit.
Because there was no Democratic candidate in the May primary, Whitten was recently slated by Porter County Democratic Chairman Jeffery Chidester.
“I am honored to put Stacey Whitten’s name on the November ballot,” he said. “I not only believe that Stacey will be a great candidate, but she will bring a new and fresh perspective to the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office.”
Gensel offered a quick response to Whitten’s announcement.
In an email to the Post-Tribune, Gensel attached a copy of a 2011 Indiana Supreme Court reprimand for both Whittens for misrepresenting their qualifications as bankruptcy attorneys and pointed to Stacey Whitten’s inexperience.
“The Prosecuting Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer in the county. It is not a job for novices,” Gensel said in a statement. “It is certainly not a job for a bankruptcy attorney with no real prosecution experience.”