Chesterton Tribune



All 30 Duneland precincts voted Yes in the school referendum

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Seven years ago, when the Duneland School Corporation first put a property-tax referendum on the ballot, the initiative won by a wafer-thin margin of 153 votes or only 1.9 percent of the 8,033 votes cast.

Of the 30 Duneland precincts, fully 17 voted No and only 13 Yes, and it was only by virtue of heavy Yes-voting in four Chesterton precincts--representing Tamarack and Tanglewood; the Estates of Sand Creek and the Villages of Sand Creek; Westchester South and Chestnut Hills; and Golfview Estates and Dogwood Estates--that the narrow margin of victory was secured at all.

Seven years later, in the municipal primary election on Tuesday, the Yes vote was overwhelming: 3,389 or 73 percent voted in favor of the continued property tax; only 1,241 or 27 percent against it.

And this time, all 30 Duneland precincts were carried by Yes votes.

The difference perhaps: the May 2012 election not only had a Republican presidential primary on the slate--though, to be fair, by that time Mitt Romney had knocked Rick Santorum out of the running--but also the hotly contested Republican senate primary between incumbent Richard Lugar and his challenger Richard Mourdock, which likely had the effect of consolidating conservatives suspicious of new taxes.

In 2012, in other words, voters in all 30 Duneland precincts had several meaningful races--over and above the referendum--in which to cast ballots. Voter turnout in Duneland seven years ago: 33 percent, compared to the countywide turnout in that primary of only 21 percent.

On Tuesday, voters in Porter and Burns Harbor and in unincorporated Duneland had only one reason to go to the polls: to cast their ballot in the referendum. Turnout, not surprisingly, was significantly lower this time around: only 14 percent in the 18 precincts which had no contested municipal primary race or no other race at all. Countywide turnout on Tuesday, in contrast, was 23 percent.

In fact, fully 57 percent of all the votes in Tuesday’s referendum--or 2,626--were cast by Town of Chesterton residents, who did have a contested municipal primary race on the ballot: the one for the Democrat nomination for the 3rd District seat on the Town Council, in which challenger Bob Allison defeated incumbent Dane Lafata 505-453. Voter turnout in the Chesterton primary was 20 percent, compared to only 8 percent in the last municipal primary, in May 2015, when all of three contested Town Council races were on the ballot.

In Tuesday’s race Allison carried eight precincts to Lafata’s four. Lafata won Westchester 1, which includes Morgan Park; Westchester 12, his home precinct, which includes a portion of Chestnut Hills, all of South Park Acres, and the Oakwood Drive and Shannon Drive neighborhoods; Westchester 18, which includes Golfview Estates and Dogwood Estates; and Liberty 1, which includes Tamarack and Tanglewood.


Posted 5/9/2019




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