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Bozak faces challenge from Poparad for Council district 1 seat

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By LILY REX

and KEVIN NEVERS

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.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.

(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.

Bozak: 35, Burns Harbor, Director of Operations at Reliable Transportation.

Poparad: 60 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)

Communication has 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.

For Poparad: 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.

(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe yourself to be a better candidate. (100 words)

Bozak: Although 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.

Poparad: The 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.

Another important 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 considered.

Poparad: I 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.

Poparad: My 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? (100 words)

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.

Poparad: I 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?

Bozak: Living 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.

Poparad: Not 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.

 

 

Posted 10/16/2018

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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