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Candidates pack Porter County office to file before deadline

DemocrMark Vittetoe meets with Kathy Kozuszek left Democratic representative Porter County Voter RegistratiOffice as he files Friday for Center Township

Democrat Mark Vittetoe meets with Kathy Kozuszek, left, Democratic representative in the Porter County Voter Registration Office, as he files Friday for the Center Township Trustee spot on the May ballot. | Post-Tribune Photo

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Updated: March 9, 2014 6:19AM



VALPARAISO — As the clock ticked toward a noon filing deadline, the Porter County Voter Registration Office saw a flurry of activity, as candidates seeking county and township offices put their names in for the May primary election.

The last candidate to file — squeaking in at around 11:50 a.m. — was Vicki Urbanik, the county’s budget and finance specialist. She is running as a Democrat for auditor, as she did four years ago when she lost to Republican Bob Wichlinski, who filed Friday to run for a second term.

“I think I’m eminently qualified,” Urbanik said, adding she has broad-based knowledge of county government, experience with the county’s budget, and an assortment of professional certifications.

She said the County Council asked her when she was hired last year if she had plans to run for the office and, while she didn’t at that point, she was always kicking the idea around.

“One of my goals as auditor would be to have someone dedicated to the county budget as I’m doing now,” she said.

Wichlinski, who didn’t file much earlier than Urbanik, said he is seeking a second term because his job isn’t finished yet.

“It’s finishing the TQM (total quality management) program and making sure we realize its objectives. It’s very important to me,” he said, adding other unfinished business includes greater integration with the recorder’s office, continuing a crackdown on homestead exemption violators, and cross-training in his newly restructured office, which included laying off several employees earlier this week.

Two Republican races attracted multiple contenders. Center District Commissioner Nancy Adams faces two opponents, Jeff Good and William LaFever.

Good, a political newcomer who filed Friday, said his background in the hotel business would lend itself to county government.

“I’m trying to utilize my skill set from my business of the last 20 years,” including asset and building management, he said. “I think there’s some similarity there.”

In the District 4 council race, Jim Polarek faces a challenge from fellow Republicans Michael Jessen and Anthony Pampalone. Pampalone, the Union Township trustee, filed Friday as the deadline loomed, and said he has a fresh perspective.

“I think the county has some dire circumstances financially,” he said, also noting a federal investigation into county business that began late last year.

Mike Simpson, the county’s Republican party chairman, who was in the office for the filings, said party officials remain neutral in races with multiple Republican candidates.

With the county’s budget concerns and other matters at hand, Simpson said he’s excited to see so much interest.

“I’m glad to see so much involvement. It’s a good thing,” he said. “The more the merrier.”

There are still a handful of open spots on the ballot, including Democratic candidates for the District 1 and 3 council seats, and the assessor’s office, as well as a Republican candidate for District 2 on the council.

County party chairmen have until noon on July 3 to slate candidates for those openings for the November general election.



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