Voters favor familiar names in GOP, Dem Porter County Council races
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent May 8, 2012 9:58PM
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:28AM
VALPARAISO — Republicans Mark Hoffman, Ralph Neff and Joe Wszolek will face Democrats Sylvia Graham, Bob Poparad and Dan Whitten for three spots on the Porter County Council in November.
A new animal shelter, funding E-911 services, what to do with the proceeds from the sale of the county hospital, and long-term planning were some of the issues on the candidates’ minds going into the primary.
Republican voters had six candidates to choose from and Democrats had four in Tuesday’s primary.
Hoffman, 61, of Valparaiso, is Valparaiso High School’s retiring athletic and former football coach; Neff, 53, of Valparaiso, is a business owner; and Wszolek, 58, of Portage, is a real estate appraiser.
The general election will be a different campaign than the one for the primary, Wszolek said, because he will be trying to appeal to a broader voter base
“The key is going to be getting our message out so we can come out on top in November,” he said.
Incumbents Graham, a retired registered nurse from Center Township, and council president and bankruptcy attorney Whitten, 45, of Porter Township, will run on the Democratic ticket with small business owner Poparad, 54, who was seeking to return to the council.
“It was a good result,” said Whitten, who is seeking a third term on the council. “I think we have a good slate and a good team for November.”
Graham, who is seeking her second term on the council, said the Democratic candidates have a “tough road to hoe” going into November.
“I’m going to get out and listen to what people have to say about what they think the issues are,” she said.
Poparad previously served two terms as the Dist. 1 representative on the county council. He’s unsure what his strategy is for the general election.
“I don’t know yet. I had to get through the primary,” he said. “We’ll see how the summer shakes out.”
Council members make $13,895 a year, and the council president earns $15,895; they also have the option of a county health insurance package.