Porter County treasurer says he’ll step down
By Amy Lavalley Post-Trib correspondent July 14, 2014 1:16PM
Porter County’s Democratic party will hold a caucus to fill Mike Bucko’s seat as treasurer at 1 p.m. on July 26 at the headquarters for Ironworkers Local 395, 6570 Ameriplex Drive, Portage.
Interested candidates must have a Democratic voting record in primary elections and file a letter with party secretary Debbie Kerr-Cook by 1 p.m. on July 23. The letter can be sent to Kerr-Cook at P.O. Box 432, Valparaiso IN 46384. They also need to file paperwork by then with Kathy Kozuszek, the party’s vice president, in the county’s Voter Registration Office.
The county’s Democratic precinct committeemen will select the next treasurer, who will take office July 28.
Updated: July 15, 2014 2:03AM
VALPARAISO — Porter County officials from both parties praised Treasurer Mike Bucko, who announced Monday he is resigning from office, almost midway through his second term.
Citing his age — he will turn 70 at the end of next month — and changes in the Public Employee Retirement Fund which take effect Sept. 1, Bucko, a Democrat, decided it was time to resign.
He would lose an initial 4 percent out of his PERF and 11 percent annually if he were to remain in office until the end of his term.
Bucko said he wants to spend more time with his wife of 44 years, Carolyn, while their health is good.
“So it is time to pass the baton on to younger and skillful, qualified Democrats,” he wrote in a resignation letter to Jeffery Chidester, chairman of the county’s Democratic party.
Bucko, who will remain in office until July 25, said he accomplished what he set out to do, which was “bring the office into the 21st Century,” including online payment abilities, Internet access for taxpayers, and improved escrow payments.
Bucko said he also worked for greater efficiency in his office.
“I hate to lose him, but I’ve got to respect him. He put in his time in public service and he’s done a good job,” Chidester said. “I think he’s definitely earned his time.”
A couple of people have approached Chidester about the position, which is up for election in 2016, but no one has said anything definitively.
“Mike has done such a good job. If he decides somewhere down the line there’s someone he wants to support, I would take that into consideration, and it would weigh heavily for the precinct committeemen,” he said.
Bucko first was elected treasurer in 2008, and also served eight years on the county council in an at-large seat, and three years representing District 4. He was on the Porter Township Board for four years, serving two terms as president, and represented Hebron with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission for two years.
He also is the former public relations/government affairs manager and business office manager for Nitco and Netitco.
Auditor Bob Wichlinski, a Republican, has known Bucko personally and professionally for almost 30 years. Bucko’s wife taught Wichlinski’s children in school, and the two worked together at Netnitco and on the Porter Township Board.
“I understand his decision completely, and he will be dearly missed. Whoever gets that position has big shoes to fill,” Wichlinski said. “We’ll work with whoever they caucus in.”
County Assessor Jon Snyder, also a Republican, said he has “nothing but praise” for Bucko.
“He was a pleasure to work with. He was instrumental in on-time tax billing, and I’m confident that another able replacement can be found,” Snyder said. “He’s a class act, so I will miss him.”
Also lauding Bucko were members of the County Council and the Board of Commissioners.
“I know with the changes in PERF it was very advantageous to retire,” said County Council President Dan Whitten, D-At-large. “He’s been knowledgeable and hard-working for the county. He’s given us some good years. I’m sorry to see him go.”
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South agreed. “I wish him all the best. His experience will be sorely missed.”