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Porter County’s Republican candidates share ideas at forum

Incumbant Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams speaks during Porter County Republican Party candidates forum held Porter County AdministratiBuilding Saturday March

Incumbant Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams speaks during the Porter County Republican Party candidates forum held at the Porter County Administration Building on Saturday March 15, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 17, 2014 6:46AM



VALPARAISO — Republican candidates for a wide swath of offices gathered Saturday in the Porter County Administration Building for a meet-and-greet sponsored by the county’s Republican party.

Four incumbents face challengers in the May 6 primary, in the District 2 race for the Board of Commissioners, and in the County Council races for Districts 1, 3 and 4.

Candidates touched on budget challenges — the county faces a deficit of $5 million this year — and working together to invest some of the $159 million in proceeds from the sale of the hospital.

In the commissioners race, incumbent Nancy Adams reviewed her accomplishments during her first term in office while challenger Jeff Good talked about how his business and community engagements would serve him in office. A third contender in the primary, William LaFever, did not attend.

Adams said she and the other commissioners are working with the council to invest the proceeds from the sale of the hospital. She also has seen the advancement of plans to open the third pod of the county jail, as well as the creation of the county’s redevelopment and drainage commissions.

“That can only be achieved through our hardworking employees of Porter County,” she said.

Good, who founded a hospitality services company 20 years ago and serves on the Regional Development Authority, said serving on that board opened his eyes to the issues facing the region and the county. He also served on the county’s Jobs Cabinet.

“I will work with all elected officials for strategic planning to protect and utilize the hospital proceeds to benefit all,” he said.

In the District 1 council race, incumbent Jim Biggs faces political newcomer Kyle Yelton. Biggs touted his political experience, while Yelton said the Duneland community needs fresh voices in government.

“I’ve tried to be a conservative voice on the County Council,” Biggs said, adding he voted for one budget that was frozen, another that decreased spending by 10 percent, and against the most recent budget, which increased spending and offered raises with reserve funds.

“We’re going to keep up the good fight. I think it’s important to have experienced people there.”

Yelton, a 2006 graduate of Chesterton High School, said his focus would be on continued economic development, and noted the new hospital, at Indiana 49 and U.S. 6, and Urschel Laboratories’ new facility going up just south of Chesterton.

“I’m committed to working with fellow council members and the commissioners” to continue economic development and keep taxes low, he said.

In District 3, County Councilwoman Karen Conover faces opponent Russell “Chet” Barone.

The council’s responsibilities are mostly limited to reviewing budgets and spending requests, Conover said.

“We must all work together to resolve our budget issues. No one person can do this alone,” she said, adding that plans to invest the proceeds of the hospital could bring in $5 million of additional revenue.

Barone noted his wife Ann’s community service, which prompted his own interest in running for the council.

“There are a lot of problems in the county. I think I can help with my business experience,” he said.

Two of the three candidates for the District 4 seat on the council attended the forum, including incumbent Jim Polarek and challenger Mike Jessen. Candidate Anthony Pampalone did not attend.

Polarek said he serves on the county’s Redevelopment Commission, which is in the process of creating the county’s first tax increment finance district, around Porter Regional Airport, with the cooperation of the East Porter School Corp.

“It serves as a model for other TIF districts,” he said.

Jessen noted his business experience with grocer Aldi, and said he oversees 65 stores in Northwest Indiana and Chicago’s south suburbs. He also has served two terms on the school board for the Union Township School Corp.

His mission in that capacity, he said, has been “to get done what’s right for the 6,500 students of the Union Township School Corp., and I think the council should be the same.”



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