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.
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
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
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.