In the municipal
election Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters in Burns Harbor will vote for five people
from a field of seven at-large candidates for Town Council.
candidates are: Toni Biancardi (R), Eric Hull (D), Nicholas Loving (D), and
Raymond Poparad (D). Challengers are Roseann Bozak (R), Walter Macchiarella
(R), and James P. McGee (R).
Tribune invited them each to participate in a candidate questionnaire.
The Tribune reserved the right to edit responses for length.
Macchiarella and Poparad did not complete questionnaires.
1) Age, occupation.
Administrative Support Specialist at Duneland Family YMCA.
Corporate Trainer at Reliable Transportation Specialist Inc. in Chesterton.
Regional Manager, along with my wife Rachael, our six kids, Katie, Alex,
Meghan, Morgan, Ethan, Gabby, and our Golden Retriever, Mollie.
Industrial Business Development Manager.
Steelworker at ArcelorMittal.
2) Incumbents: Why
are you seeking reelection to the Town Council? (75 words)
Biancardi: I am
running for office because I believe I can make a difference in Burns
Harbor. As a native of Burns Harbor, it is important to me to preserve our
identity and rich history while planning for the future. I enjoy serving the
community as a Town Council person working together with others to provide
services and improvements to our residents, building relationships with our
businesses, and planning for our future.
Hull: I am
seeking reelection to continue working on the projects started by others
before me, along with the complete full support and efforts of the other
members of the Council. I hope to see the completion of the Burns Harbor
section of the Marquette Greenway Trail and development of the Westport
Loving: As a
lifelong resident of Burns Harbor, I am running to ensure that we continue
to have the lowest property taxes in NWI combined with the highest levels of
municipal service (police, fire, ambulance, streets and sanitation). I also
want to ensure that the Town Council continues to seek community input on
issues related to commercial and residential development.
are you seeking election to the Town Council? (75 words)
Bozak: I have
been active in Burns Harbor for several years, and currently sit on the
planning commission and the park board. After speaking to some members of
our community about the direction our town is taking, I felt like it was my
time to step in and serve the community. I love our town, and I want to see
it grow and succeed for future generations.
seeking election for the Burns Harbor Town Council because I enjoy being
involved in the dialogues with our rapid growing community. I have the
necessary experience and have always had the best interest for our town.
More information about Jim MeGee for Burns Harbor can be found online.
3) What specific
skill sets would you bring to the Town Council? (100 words)
Biancardi: I am
a doer, an analyzer, a planner, and always looking for ways to improve
systems and processes. I believe these are the skills that help us to make
good decisions while taking care to be fiscally responsible. I value all
input and want to make sure each voice is heard. As a native of Burns
Harbor, it is important to me to preserve our rich history while planning
for the future. Currently, I serve as a Redevelopment Commissioner, a Plan
Commission Member, Storm Water and Sanitary Board President, Park Board
Liaison, Duneland Economic Development Corporation and Rotary Club
Bozak: My job
as a trainer for our corporation has taught me many great skills such as
being organized, being a great listener, and collaborating with many people
to make sure a project is complete. It has also taught me how to adapt in
difficult situations and how to see them through from start to finish. I am
also a mom of four, so multi-tasking is also something that I am very well
versed in. I take pride in everything I do and make sure that all tasks are
completed on time and to their fullest.
spent 16 years managing emergency response teams, and many long hours
working alongside first responders, community leaders, and enforcement
officials. This has helped me better understand the needs of our civil
services and the needs of our dedicated employees who do them. Over the last
10 years, I have served Burns Harbor residents as President of both the
Redevelopment Commission and Advisory Plan Commission, and as a member of
the Board of Zoning Appeals and Sewer and Sanitation Boards. I was appointed
to the Town Council after a member left, then elected at the last term.
Loving: I bring
real-world business experience in project management, sound judgment, and
financial acumen to the Council. I am focused on keeping us within budget
and saving our money where possible. In addition to being the current Town
Council President and liaison to the Police Department, I also serve on the
Redevelopment Commission and the Stormwater Board. Along with this
experience, I also bring my belief that local politics is done best when
both parties are working together to achieve the common good for all
residents. I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to see that through.
specific skill set I bring that is different from everyone else is that I
use to be the Burns Harbor Town Council President. I know what exactly the
job entails and how to get things accomplished. Iíve worked with the
Redevelopment Commission and Planning Commission. Iíve helped ensure that
our public services always had the proper resources and always voted against
4) Incumbents: As a
current Council member, what do you think the Council can improve upon, and
what changes would you like to see going forward if you are reelected? (125
Biancardi: I am
very pleased by the collaboration, efficiency, and productivity of the
Council, Clerk Treasurer, and town staff over the past four years. Together
we have accomplished much to the benefit of our residents, businesses, and
visitors. We have worked to balance the budget while making improvements and
purchases without taking on debt. We have continued the previous Councilís
commitment to the Marquette Greenway Trail to begin connecting our community
through a trail system. Iím excited to be a part of the development of the
Westport PUD and the economic development opportunities it will bring to
town. Iíd like to keep the momentum going in the next four years.
Hull: I think
the Council and the various boards can work together to bring many of the
projects currently underway to completion. By streamlining some of the
processes through the various boards, residents, and future residents alike
will benefit with clear, concise, and simple interactions with local
Burns Harbor Town Council prides itself on being non-partisan, thrifty and
forward thinking. The best thing that we can do in the next term would be to
continue together on this path. If all five of us continue to work together,
we will continue with the progress that we have made. If I am elected, I
would like to see us do a better job of fostering community engagement. This
is why I have proposed holding summer Town-Council meetings outside of town
hall and I am a proponent of having as many citizen appointments on town
boards as possible.
What do you think the Council can improve upon, and what changes would you
like to see If you are elected? (125 words)
happy with the direction that I am seeing our town move in. However, I would
love to explore new ways to get residents more involved. We have so many
great events in Burns Harbor, and I want to make sure that everyone knows
about them and are able to attend. There are lots of amazing things
happening in the next few years and I want to make sure everyone knows about
them. I would like to see a newsletter going out to town residents regularly
to keep people informed. I will make sure all questions and concerns are
answered quickly and efficiently.
McGee: I would
like to see some stability in the Town Council. I believe my past experience
with the Town Council makes me the perfect candidate for such stability.
5) What are the key
issues in this race? (125 words)
believe the key issues in this race are how do we plan for the future and
grow our economic base in a way that preserves our small-town feel. It will
be important to see through the completion of the Marquette Greenway Trail
and the Westport PUD in the next term.
Bozak: The new
land development at the site of the former Westport Community Center is
something that I am very excited about. I would like to help to make sure
that this development suits the needs of the residents as well as being
aesthetically pleasing. Keeping the public informed on all thatís happening
is important. I would like to work with the council to make all the
information easily available to the community possibly by live streaming
meetings or putting videos online for people who canít make the meetings.
While working on this big project, we canít forget to stay on top of the
upkeep of current roads, parks, and infrastructures we currently have.
current Council member elected to not run again. Regardless of the outcome
of the election, ensuring those who are chosen to serve need to complete the
projects the Town has been working on and is so close to bringing to a
reality. The Town has been awarded over $3.5 million dollars in State and
Federal grants to complete the Marquette Greenway and will begin
construction next year. This is a key component of the proposed Westport
Development Area and will highlight our place in NWI.
2020 census will show that Burns Harbor now has over 2,000 residents and, if
our growth trend continues, we will have 3,000 residents by 2030. The key
issue in this race is the manner in which we will grow our town over the
next decade. Under my continued leadership, we will have steady and
sustainable development that will put us in prime position to be the premier
community in NWI. We can and must accomplish this without sacrificing our
small town atmosphere or the quality of our town services. As we grow in
population, I believe that I am the best candidate to lead us.
believe the key issues are the same as in the past. We must maintain and do
better in government transparency, give residents a great incentive to stay
in our community, keep cost of living down, and attract more businesses to
our growing community.
6) Attracting and
retaining businesses and new development seems to be a struggle across
Duneland. In the Redevelopment Commission survey, some respondents said new
development would make Burns Harbor lose its ďsmall town feel,Ē while others
said the Town needs more business, local or otherwise. Do you think Burns
Harbor should have a more even mix of residential and commercial
development? What other measures, if any, do you think the Town could take
to be more friendly to small businesses and larger commercial development?
current Comprehensive Plan supports a mix of residential and commercial
development throughout town. Our Redevelopment Commission plays a large role
in engaging and attracting businesses to town and acts as the main point of
contact. As a town we are continually working towards streamlining and
simplifying our processes to assist companies interested in doing business
in Burns Harbor. Our staff and various boards arenít satisfied with saying,
ďthatís the way weíve always done it.Ē We regularly review our code and make
updates or modifications when necessary. We welcome the opportunity to share
all the great things about Burns Harbor.
Bozak: I would
love to see more economic development within Burns Harbor. The leadership in
Burns Harbor needs to work responsibly with further growth in Burns Harbor
to keep that small town feeling that we love so much. I do not feel that
bringing in businesses will change that small town feel that many residents
love, having more places that bring revenue and jobs to our town would
benefit many residents. Since we are a growing town, I also think that it is
important that we hear from all potential businesses owners with an open
mind and see what we can make work in Burns Harbor while following town
codes and making sure the town remains visually appealing. The planning
commission has been working together to simplify and streamline town
ordinances to make it easier for potential businesses.
Hull: The fact
is that as surrounding communities run out of buildable space, growth will
come to Burns Harbor. Planning for that growth, and having residentsí input
around it is the best solution to managing it. Right now, if someone wants
to build on a property, and it is zoned for it, there is not much anyone can
do to influence it. Ensuring the right mix of residential and commercial
areas that interact and compliment one another has been a big focus over the
last decade here. Many plans have been proposed, and I think we finally have
one in the Westport Development that will bring the community together.
Loving: While I
do believe that attracting new development is a struggle for other Duneland
communities, we are not experiencing this in Burns Harbor. We have multiple
residential subdivisions in varying stages of completion and the
Redevelopment Commission is currently engaged with Holladay Properties on a
development that will include residential and commercial parcels. These are
all vibrant neighborhoods, and I would be proud to call any one of them my
home. I believe that the town should have an even mix of residential and
commercial development, but commercial developers will only come when there
is a population large enough for them to service. I support any small
business that wants to come to town and there are programs in place to
encourage that, but I will oppose any measures that would sacrifice Burns
Harborís ďsmall-town feelĒ for a development that is out of character with
our current town makeup.
Harbor has that small town feeling. But, thereís only so much going on. Many
residents look to other surrounding communities for their shopping needs,
entertainment, and social life. We can make changes to maintain the small
town feel while improving in these areas. I believe investing in smaller
businesses will be the key for the future success of our community.
7) Incumbent: Burns
Harbor ended its ambulance service contract with Superior in July 2018 after
Superior proposed a hefty hike in the cost of service. While the Town
Council and the Redevelopment Commission formed a solution, Burns Harbor was
without dedicated ambulance service for more than two months as officials
and residents debated the sustainability of Town ambulance service and the
pros and cons of contracting with Porter Regional. Explain the Councilís
choice to resurrect Town ambulance service and the current plan to sustain
it. (150 words)
Ambulance service is a necessity. The Council considered all the options and
concluded that the best course of action was to operate our own service. I
believe there is value in operating the service as a town by having an
ambulance close by to respond to emergencies as well as providing employment
for EMTs and paramedics. Our staff provides outstanding care and has
received many commendations for the lives they have aided and saved. Our
service is currently collecting payments that cover roughly half of the cost
to operate the ambulance. As a Town Council, we are committed to looking for
additional ways of maintaining our ambulance service.
service in Burns Harbor is absolutely essential for our residents,
businesses, and visitors to our community. I cannot count the number of
lives our dedicated professionals have saved during this transition. This
service has a cost, just as a police, streets, or parks do. Providing life
saving services is not an area where we can afford to make cuts or settle
for less than the best. We cannot allow a business to dictate to our
residents the value of life or tie that value to a profit margin. This has
been echoed almost unanimously by our residents. We have worked hard to
maintain a balanced budget over the last few years and are still figuring
out the best way to maintain this service financially. As the service
becomes somewhat self sustaining, we may have to look for additional ways
and creative ideas to fund this essential life saving service.
Superior proposed its outrageous price-hike, the town was left with three
options for ambulance service: 1) Continue with Superior 2) Contract with
Porter Regional or 3) Reestablish Town Ambulance Service. The option of
continuing with Superior was quickly eliminated. The cost difference between
contracting with Porter Regional and a town service was negligible, and the
council decided that we would have quicker response times and better service
if our ambulance was based in town and operated by our trusted Fire
Department. This decision has already resulted in multiple lifesaving
ambulance calls and those lives may not have been saved if response times
were longer. Of all the decisions that I have made on the council, Iím the
most proud of this one. There is a cost to operating any municipal service
and going forward, any costs not offset by patient transports will be
incorporated into the townís budget.
what you think is the best way for Burns Harbor to guarantee quality
ambulance service to its residents in the long-term. (150 words)
believe that we need to continue to run the ambulance service in Burns
Harbor and not outsource. The amount of money that Porter Regional was
asking for per year was a very large sum and why pay someone else for a job
we could do within the town. Waiting on an ambulance can be life or death in
many cases and since we have been using our own ambulance service, lives
have been saved by the quick response. I look forward to working with the
council to come up with a resolution that will be long term and benefit the
residents of Burns Harbor.
McGee: The end
of ambulance service in 2018 wasnít a shock given the details that emerged.
I helped with the initial contract for the ambulance service and was proud
of how we accomplished that contract. Initially the town got a great benefit
from the contract with Superior, but the key was to ensure it didnít cost
the residents more money out of their pockets. Ultimately, we can find a
similar contract with another company, and we can look at the cost benefit
of contracting with Porter Regional. But, I would like to try and find the
same solution as in the past that doesnít cost the townís residents more in
8) Though it has
remained a small community through the years, Burns Harbor has a history of
evolving and planning for growth. What is your specific vision for its
future? (125 words)
want Burns Harbor to be a place where my children will stay to live, work,
and raise a family. I see a community connected within in its borders and
connected to the greater region through trails and different modes of
transportation. One that attracts retail and commercial that offer a mix of
products and services as well as businesses and organizations that will
create jobs. A town that maintains its small town feel through its residents
and their neighborhood connections and the town departments that continue to
provide spaces and events for people of all ages to gather and build
Bozak: I am
super excited about the Marquette Greenway trail! I feel that this is going
to bring people to our town and itís going to contribute to our community in
so many ways. This along with the new land development at the old Westport
Community Center site, are moving this town into a great direction. This is
going to build our town up, and done responsibly, itís going to be wonderful
for the residents. We have a difficult set up in our town with highways 149
and 20 dividing us, and I hope to see all these new projects give our town a
better connection. I canít wait to hear more public opinion on what they
would like to see in our town.
Hull: As we saw
in 2008, Burns Harbor is very dependent on our largest business,
ArcelorMittal. We must be responsible to ensure that while we maintain
support for them, we do not rely solely on them to survive as a community.
It is very doubtful our borders will grow, so we must plan for the right mix
of commercial growth along the U.S. 20 Corridor as well as responsible
residential growth in other parts of the Town. Growing our tax base in the
right way can help us to become less dependent on one source. Other
communities are watching us very closely, and the next few years will be
instrumental in how our future will unfold.
Loving: I lived
in Burns Harbor when we measured our population in hundreds, not thousands,
so my vision for the future of Burns Harbor is a town where we havenít lost
sight of our roots and where we still know our neighbors and look out for
each other. I believe that with proper planning, in ten years, we will have
3,000 residents and our town will be a place in which we can live and shop
that is the envy of surrounding communities. We will be connected to our
larger region via roads, trains, and trails. I would like to see commercial
development along our Highway 20 and 149 corridors, with residential
development separated into quiet neighborhoods. Ultimately, I would like to
be a part of building our community into a place my three young children
want to move back to after college.
Harbor remains in a great location. Weíre right off Lake Michigan with
access to the nearby dunes. Weíre a quick trip to the highway to nearly
anywhere or even a train ride. My focus is on the growth of our newer
residents that now call Burns Harbor home. We have many new homes
constructed in the past decade. I would like to make sure the residents of
those new homes enjoy the community and feel proud, even raise a family, and
keep their roots in our community. I want those with established roots to
continue to call Burns Harbor home. Our little town is great, we just need
to make some minor adjustments to maintain its greatness.