Chesterton Tribune



Chidester and Graham lead in campaign fundraising in county

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Even though they are unopposed in the May 3 primary elections, Democrats Jeff Chidester and Sylvia Graham are gearing up stronger than any other candidates according to the latest campaign financial reports.

Pre-primary reports from candidates and party committees were due last Friday in which they must disclose contributions of more than $100, loans and expenditures from January 1 to April 8.

County Commissioner - Democrat

Chidester, who is chair of the Porter County Democratic Party, is the only Democrat running for North District County Commissioner and reported a $33,350 total in campaign contributions and expenditures

The biggest contribution to Chidesterís war chest is from Ironworkers Local 395 which donated $10,000 directly to the campaign. The report also lists a $10,000 loan from Chidester himself.

Chidester currently works as a financial secretary for IWL 395.

Local law firms are also some of Chidesterís major backers. Langer & Langer of Valparaiso gave $1,000 while both Friedman & Associates of LaPorte and Rhame & Elwood of Portage gave $500 each.

More labor organizations and political action committees giving to Chidester include IBEW Local 697 ($500); Northern Indiana Joint Operators #150 ($500); Laborers Local 41 ($500); Laborers Local 81 ($500); Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council ($250); IBEW Local 531 ($250); USW Local Union 12775 ($250); and Local 6787 Political Education and Legislative Fund ($125).

Corporate donations to Chidester include Superior Construction Co. Inc. ($500) and The Ross Group, Inc. ($250).

Chidesterís biggest individual supporters, giving $300 or more, include Irene Chidester, of Melbourne Beach, Fla. ($1,500); State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes ($500); County Council President Dan Whitten ($500); Robert Harper, of Valparaiso ($500); Harold Harper, of Valparaiso ($500); Kellie Stankiewicz, of Chicago ($350); and Mike Sommers, of Montrey, Ind. ($300).

County Commissioner Laura Blaney and State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, each gave $200 to Chidesterís campaign.

The one candidate in the race for South District County Commissioner, incumbent Laura Shurr Blaney, reported a cash-on-hand amount of $237 for the reporting period. The Blaney for Commissioner report also lists a $13,000 debt to Blaney herself, left over from her previous campaign in 2012.

County Commissioner - Republican

Meanwhile, in the contested race for the Republican North County Commissioner nomination, candidate Jeff Troutís campaign total of $14,678 leads his primary opponents John Cannon ($4,309 total) and Jim Biggs ($2,912 total).

T & P Development of Chesterton gave $2,000 to Trout, who is a former Chesterton Town Council member.

Troutís top individual donors include Peter Peuquet, of Bremen ($1,528); Anthony Vesh, of Porter ($1,000); Stewart and Katherine McMillan, of Valparaiso ($1,000); and Brandon Mulshire, of Chesterton ($500).

Donations from corporations for Trout include $500 from Bergland Beyond Building, of Chicago, and Gariup Construction, of Gary.

Also supporting Trout is the Committee to Elect John Evans with $1,000. Evans is the current seat holder who chose not to run for re-election after his fourth term as Commissioner.

Trout also reported more than $5,000 spent on mailing.

There is a three-way tie for largest contribution in Cannonís campaign. Each giving $1,000 are Chief Freight Lines Inc., of Portage, Northern Indiana Operator Joint Management PAC, of Countryside, IL, and Marshall Enterprises, of Merrillville.

Individual donors to Cannon include Thomas Pappas, of Portage ($250); Susan Resteau, of Valparaiso ($100); and Drew Mitchel of Hinsdale, Ill. ($100).

Another corporation donating to Cannon is SAR Development, of Portage, adding $500. A $100 direct donation is listed from Citizens for Snyder (Portage Mayor James Snyder).

Biggs reported one donation made by an individual -- Albert Steele -- of $250. A direct donation of $125 to Biggsí campaign also came from a corporation, Kustom Auto Body in Portage.

Biggs, who currently is the Duneland representative on the County Council, listed a loan he made to his campaign of $2,505.

County Council - Democrat

In the race for Porter County Council at-large, Democrat Sylvia Graham is leading with $10,310 in reported contributions and expenditures.

Grahamís biggest received donation is from Ironworkers Local 395, at $1,000.

Grahamís individual donors of more than $100 are Francis Saar, of Valparaiso ($250); County Sheriff David Reynolds ($200), County Council President Dan Whitten ($200); and Brendon Clancy, of Portage ($150).

Two law firms gave to Graham -- Rhame & Elwood ($250) and Harper and Harper ($100).

Graham is receiving help from labor organizations and political action committees such as Steelworkers 6787 ($100); Northwest Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council ($50); Laborers Local 81 ($100); Northwest Indiana Operators ($500); Pipefitters 597 ($225); USW Local 12775 ($100); and IBEW Local 531 ($200).

The Committee to Re-Elect Robert Poparad reported $0 as a total.

The Committee to Elect Dan Whitten for County Council reported $3,012 in campaign expenditures, largely for campaign signs, and $973 for cash on hand.

Voters can vote for up to three candidates in the Porter County Council at-large race. Graham, Poparad and Whitten, all three incumbents, face no challengers.

County Council - Republican

On the Republican side of the County Council at-large race five candidates are vying for one of the three spots on the fall ballot.

Candidate Travis Gearhartís report showed the most donations, with a total of $1,850 in campaign contributions and expenditures.

Among Gearhartís top donors are Gregory Louthan of Portage, Mich. ($1,200); Amy Cunningham, of Hebron ($100); Pete Blank, of Hebron ($100); Tracy Lickwar, of Valparaiso ($70); Jon C. Miller, of Chesterton ($50); Mike Stulac, of Hebron ($50); and Gary Ludwig, of Hebron ($50).

Candidate Rich Parks has listed $9,095 as his campaign total figure, $5,000 of which is a direct loan from himself.

Candidate Ralph Levi reported a $100 donation he made to his committee. Candidates Howard OíConnor and Jeff Larson reported a total of $0.


Other County races this year include those for County Treasurer and County Surveyor.

The lone Republican candidate for the Treasurer seat, Chuck Harris, reported $4,892 for his campaign total with $3,500 in contributions. Those are comprised of a $2,500 donation by Stephen Harris, of Frankfort, and $1,000 from Harris himself.

Current Treasurer Michelle Clancy, a Democrat, is unopposed for the primary and reported $0 as her campaign total.

Incumbent Surveyor Kevin Breitzke, a Democrat, reported $100 in unitemized contributions and receipts for his campaign.

Republican Surveyor candidate Bill Rensberger did not submit his campaign report before Fridayís deadline.

Posted 4/19/2016


Surveyor candidate Rensberger submits campaign report

Porter County Surveyor candidate Republican Bill Rensberger turned in his campaign finance report to the Porter County Clerk after hours on Friday.

Rensberger reported $0 in campaign contributions and expenditures. He is unopposed in the May 3 primary election but is set to challenge longtime incumbent Democrat Kevin Breitzke in the November general election.

Friday was the deadline for candidates to submit their reports of what theyíve taken in and spent on their campaigns from Jan. 1 to April 8.



Posted 4/20/2016








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