In the general
election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, incumbent Andy Bozak will face a challenge from
Bob Poparad for the District 1 seat on the County Council. The Chesterton
Tribune invited them to respond to candidate questionnaires.
set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of
Burns Harbor, Director of Operations at Reliable Transportation.
years old, life-long Burns Harbor resident, small business owner.
(2) For Bozak: You
were elected to your seat on the County Council by a Republican caucus in
January 2017. Why are you seeking election to the seat at large? (75 words)
As President of the
County Council, I know firsthand how important it is for the Duneland
community to have its voice be both heard and respected. I'm overseeing
important projects, such as improvements to the North County Courthouse and
the Expo Center, and I am the type of person who likes to see projects
through to completion. It's also important that all voices continue to be
heard, both among county employees and especially fellow residents.
For Poparad: You
previously served four terms in an at-large seat on the County Council,
until losing your bid for re-election in 2016. Why are you now seeking
election to the 1st District seat? (75 words)
Call it a hazard of
being raised in a family that has always been very civic-minded. Despite
losing my re-election bid in 2016, I know that I bring experience and
knowledge for the good of the public of Porter County, and it is in my blood
to serve until I can no longer uphold the duties and responsibilities
required of public service.
(3) For Bozak:
Describe your achievements in office. (100 words)
been a consistent theme of my tenure. I've been sharing my personal phone
number (219-508-7152) since I took office because I want residents to know
they have a voice in government that will address their problems and a
contact who can get them to the right person to help. We've also invested in
new technology to make county government more efficient and streamlined. In
addition, Iíve helped establish a rainy day fund in the County Foundation to
protect us when the stock markets are down. We're also continuing to invest
in our infrastructure and employees.
Describe your achievements while serving on the County Council as an
at-large member. (100 words)
I am proud that I
have been able to negotiate numerous routine tasks while previously in
office such as adequately funding budgets for the County Services in a
fiscally sound way through nonpartisan compromises. However, I still feel my
biggest accomplishment was protecting the proceeds of the sale of the
hospital from having it spent too quickly. The main concept is simple, use
the interest to preserve the principal for use in times of extreme economic
downturn. Many people talk about being fiscally conservative, but I have
proven that I can get it done.
yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe
yourself to be a better candidate. (100 words)
I'm able to start day one of a new term with no learning curve, the most
important difference is that I bring fresh and new ideas to the council. I
am open minded and frequently work with others in our organization to make
sure we are getting the best solutions to problems. I freely give out my
cell phone # to anyone that asks and make sure Iím accessible to anyone that
needs help. If I donít know the answer to a question, I make sure to follow
through and get an answer.
number one quality I bring to the table is experience. I have not only
served on the County Council multiple times, but also at the town level,
serving on the Burns Harbor Town Council for three terms and multiple other
committees (Plan Commission, BZA etc). With this experience, I have a vast
knowledge of government and how it works. Iím also a tenacious council
person, seeking out the answers to questions that others may let lie even if
it means tracking down state statutes and other laws.
(5) What are the
key issues in this race? (125 words)
Bozak: One of
the main issues in this race is the Foundation. As I have written above,
itís important that before we take any action that we have a fully funded
rainy day fund. Once that is accomplished we can look at taking the next
step to create a charitable arm of the foundation.
issue is how Duneland is represented. As President of the County Council
(and someone who thrives on doing the right thing at the right time for the
right reason), I work hard to form bipartisan coalitions and bring all sides
together through humility and respect. I not only work hard to make sure
everyone can reach me, but also make sure everyone's opinions are heard and
think the number one priority and responsibility of the County Council is to
keep the County on sound fiscal footing. I know itís not glorious or fancy,
but itís essential that the backbone of the County is strong and solid so
the men and women who serve the county in all its public operations have the
resources they need.
(6) What are your
priorities for use of the funds in the Porter County Non-profit Charitable
Foundation? (75 words)
Bozak: My first
priority for the Foundation is to completely fund our Rainy Day Fund. This
will ensure we are prepared for down turns in the economy and when returns
are not as high. We want to be prepared for at least three years of poor to
no returns. Following this, I would like to get a charitable arm of the
foundation setup that can help our community in many ways.
number one priority is to maintain the level of public services while
keeping the local tax rate low. In addition, we need to create a grant
system that gives the nonprofits an avenue to also have access to some of
the interest proceeds.
(7) In April the
County Council and Commissioners were surprised to learn of a problematic
lease extension for use of a Valparaiso building space by the Prosecutorís
Child Support Division. That extension appears to have locked the Child
Support Division in its present location at an above-market rate. Whom do
you blame for the failure of due diligence regarding this lease extension?
Bozak: I was
not part of the council when the extension occurred so I wonít place blame
or point fingers. As the Council, we are in charge of the County finances so
itís something we are taking very seriously. Currently we are having our
attorney look at this contract to see what options we have, if any. In
addition, we are reviewing all county contracts with all lessors and vendors
to see if there are any other issues that we will need to look into. We are
remaining transparent through this process and will have answers very soon.
donít want to point a finger at any specific person, but I will say that it
is not in the wheelhouse of the County Council to sign leases. The executive
branch of the local government, the Commissionerís Office, is the only body
legally able to sign leases. Iím not sure where the breakdown happened, but
I know itís not with the County Council. Lack of clarity and communication
may be the underlying cause of this problematic lease extension.
(8) What important
Duneland-specific experience or insight do you bring to the County Council?
in the Duneland community for over 20 years, I have watched our community
grow. I served on Burns Harbor Town Council, Park Board, and Plan
Commission. I volunteered as treasurer and coach for Little League and am
our local Knights of Columbus Youth Director. As the President of the County
Council, I have been involved with current projects, and very much a part of
some important decisions that are already put into action.
only am I a lifelong resident, but my business is here, my family is here.
In short, all my roots are here in the Duneland area. I know this area, I
know the people and I know the unique challenges that face this county.