Chesterton Tribune

Porter County election endorsements

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A Chesterton Tribune Editorial

The General Election Tuesday offers Porter County voters clear choices for county governmental offices.

The following are the Chesterton Tribune endorsements of candidates for Porter County offices to be on the ballot Nov. 1. Endorsements are based on candidates’ records, responses to interview questions, performance at candidate night forums and personal observations by Tribune staff.

County Commissioner

North District:

Republican John Evans

County Commissioner

South District:

Republican Dave Burrus

Commissioner incumbents John Evans and Dave Burrus showed leadership during last year’s county fiscal crisis. Both can be praised for a CEDIT plan which includes funding for the county parks, expansion of the South Shore commuter rail service, the Geographic Information System, and the update of the county’s zoning and subdivision control ordinances. Both should be praised for instituting the practice of publicly posting board appointment openings and publicly interviewing the hospital board candidates. The future of the hospital is a key issue for Duneland. If the county’s public hospital is sold there would be no guarantee that the Chesterton medical center would remain open for urgent care.

Their handling of the open space ordinance, however, was unfortunate. They both opposed the original 20 percent set-aside proposal and formed a committee to work out an alternative. They accepted the committee’s alternative, and the plan commission later upheld the changes. But now both Burrus and Evans say the ordinance is flawed and they want to water down its provisions.

Democrat opponents Carole Knoblock and Jack Clem are not in the same league with Evans and Burrus in qualifications or positions on the issues.

Clem spent several years as a Democrat appointee to the Indiana Department of Transportation, an agency which has been no friend to Chesterton or Porter County.

Knoblock has pretended to oppose income taxes. A paid advertisement by the county Democrat Party says she opposes “any County Income tax.” Yet, as a County Council member she voted for the CEDIT income tax and has said she is ready to vote for the CAGIT income tax under the right circumstances. The CAGIT income tax has been the stealth goal of many “income tax opponents.” It would shift the tax burden from business, farmers and landlords to wage earners without providing for any improvement of governmental service to those in need. Also, Knoblock’s willingness to consider selling the county hospital is a threat to the quality of medical care for the Duneland area.

Holdover Commissioner Democrat Robert Harper is hoping Clem and/or Knoblock win to give him a working majority. He has some very good intentions and has already accomplished much, it is wrong to vote in an unqualified candidate just to give hypothetical power to an incumbent, no matter how promising.

Harper, Evans and Burrus have had some tense moments but Porter County is better off for the divergent and strong opinions each one holds, because it forces debate, openness and consensus-building.

Note: Though the candidates run by district they are voted on at-large. All Duneland area voters are eligible to vote in both Commissioner races.

Porter County Council:

(Vote for Three)

Republicans William Carmi-chael and Jim Burge

Democrat Dan Whitten

The County Council has one real job: To oversee county finances and budgets.

This year there are seven candidates running for three at-large seats. Every voter in Porter County may vote for up to three candidates.

Only one candidate, incumbent Council President William Carmichael of Chesterton, has both the experience and vision needed for the Council in this difficult year. Voters willing to “bullet vote” for only one choice should vote for Carmichael.

Voters who desire to vote for three candidates might have a tough time finding the right choices in the rest of the field. Several of the candidates do not have a clue how county government works or what their duties and powers will be if elected.

For those who wish to exercise their right to vote for three we recommend Carmichael, Jim Burge and Dan Whitten.

Burge, however, has a huge weakness, he supports the CAGIT income tax to shift the burden of government from property owners to wage earners without improving services. His strength is that, almost alone among the non-incumbents, he has demonstrated a strong knowledge of county government and taxation issues. He appears genuinely committed to strengthening the county’s quality of life. Particularly insightful was his comment made at the candidate forum in support of giving priority to tax abatement projects that involve the renovation of existing vacant structures.

Whitten shows an equally thorough knowledge of county government and tax issues, although his strong opposition to all three of the county income tax options is short-sighted. Whitten would give reasoned and thorough consideration to the issues and seek consensus. His support for continued funding for social service programs as a quality-of-life issue is commendable.

Burge and Whitten have opposing views on CAGIT and both would put forth strong arguments on their side when and if the tax is proposed. The debate between the two could be interesting.

Porter County Surveyor

Democrat Kevin Breitzke

Quite simply, Kevin Breitzke is abundantly more qualified and experienced than his challengers. Just this month Breitzke cast a courageous vote to enact the new County Open Space Ordinance.

Porter County Treasurer

No endorsement



Posted 10/28/2004