It’s said that 2016
will be an unusual election year and that may be proven with the
pre-election campaign finance reports filed in Porter County.
election years Republicans have brought in the most money, but this time
Democrats have garnered the lion’s share of contributions in nearly every
Commissioner North District race, pitting Republican Jim Biggs against
Democrat Jeff Chidester, has raised the most money. Chidester reported a
total of $59,988 in contributions and expenditures from Jan. 1 to Oct. 14,
when the pre-election campaign finance period ended. Biggs meanwhile
reported $22,095 in contributions and receipts for his campaign.
Chidester, who is
the longtime financial secretary of Ironworkers Local 395 and chair of the
Porter County Democrats, received donations from a number of unions and
fellow Democrats. His biggest contribution comes from the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers with $1,400. Giving $1,000 each were
United Steelworkers Local 6787; Merrillville attorney A. Leon Sarkisian;
Portage Township resident Irene Chidester; Democrat Voters Registration
Director Kathy Kozuszek; Portage law firm Rhame & Elwood; and Democrat State
Senator Karen Taillan’s campaign committee.
labor backers include Laborers Local 81 of Valparaiso ($800); United
Steelworkers Local Union 12775 of Portage ($450); and the Northern Indiana
Area Labor Federation of Merrillville ($300).
individual donors include Daniel O’Meara of Valparaiso ($500); Becky
Chidester of Valparaiso ($500); Steve Langer of Valparaiso ($500); Steve
Mullins of Valparaiso ($500); Portage Town Council member Mark Oprisko
($500); Dr. Kelly Stankiewicz of Chicago ($500); and Daniel Parker of
giving to Chidester include Citizens for Chuck (Moseley) at $700 and
Hoosiers for Scott Pelath, and Visclosky for Congress at $500 each.
a $10,000 loan from himself to his campaign.
Biggs, a current
Porter County Council member, received his largest donation from In Touch
Pharmaceuticals of Valparaiso, at $3,000. His biggest citizen donors are
Valparaiso business owners Mark Forszt and John Magurean and Duneland School
Board Member Ronald Stone, all giving $1,000. Also giving $1,000 to Biggs is
Gariup Construction Company of Gary; and A C Iron, of Lansing, Ill.
Biggs $500 include Valparaiso residents Dr. Lonnie Ailes and Jason and Lori
Gilliana and Indianapolis resident Gregory L. Henneke.
$500 were NITCO of South Bend; and G. E. Marshall Inc. of Valparaiso. The
DPBG Political Action Committee also gave $500 to Bigg’s campaign.
In addition, Biggs
reported a $300 contribution from Porter County Republican Chair Michael
Simpson and a $250 contribution from the Friends of Ed Soliday.
In the South County
Commissioner’s uncontested race, Democrat incumbent Laura Shurr Blaney
reported a $13,000 campaign loan she made to her committee this year.
again to be the heavy hitters in the County Council at-large races with the
three incumbents--Sylvia Graham, Robert Poparad and Dan Whitten--reporting
much larger war chests than their Republican opponents, Travis Gearhart,
Jeff Larson, and Rich Parks.
the largest: $30,000 in campaign contributions and receipts, his own loan to
the campaign, most of which has been spent on advertisements. He reported no
came to $27,825 in contributions and receipts. His biggest support came from
fellow incumbents Graham and Poparad, whose campaign committees gave $2,000
each. Many of Whitten’s other donations came from attorneys and law firms.
Whitten works as a bankruptcy attorney for Whitten and Whitten.
individual donor is Merrillville attorney Kevin Schmidt, who gave $1,500.
Sarkisian Sarkisian & Associates, a law firm in Merrillville, gave $1,200
;and Portage law firm Rhame & Elwood gave $1,000.
giving $500 to Whitten were Steven Disney of Valparaiso; R. Todd and Janet
Gore of Portage; and Mark and Cheryl Oprisko of Portage.
Whitten also took
in $500 each from Ironworkers 395 and Boilermakers Local 374, as well as
$500 from Komyatte & Casbon, a medical collection law firm of Highland
reported a total of $17,566 in contributions and receipts. She received her
largest donations from Ironworkers Local 395, of Portage ($1,500); and the
Northern Indiana Operators of Countryside, Ill. ($1,000).
individual donors are Betty Izynski of Valparaiso ($600); Nancy Morris of
Valparaiso ($400); Frances Saar of Valparaiso ($300); Mary Rearick of
Chesterton ($200); Bess Megremis of Bloomington ($200); and Steve Langer of
Graham’s campaign garnered $450 from Rhame & Elwood of Portage; $400 from
Harper and Harper Law Office of South Haven; and $350 from the Committee to
Elect David Reynolds Sheriff ($350).
And Graham reported
a $2,500 loan she made to her committee.
Parks leads the GOP
contestants with $20,745 in contributions and receipts. Individuals giving
$500 or more to Parks are Timothy Scannel of Valparaiso ($1,500); County
Commissioner Jeff Good ($1,000); Arnold Gough of Valparaiso ($1,000); Deno
Yiankes of Valparaiso ($500); Brian Rossman of Valparaiso ($500); Mark D.
Magura of Valparaiso ($500); Kevin Carlson of Valparaiso ($500); and
Kathleen Walsh of Valparaiso ($500).
the most are Gilliana Pools LLC of Merrillville ($1,000) and VRQ LLC of
Highland ($500). Other help comes from the campaigns of Portage Mayor James
Snyder ($500); Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas ($300); and the Friends of Ed
putting $4,595 from his own pocket into his campaign.
Gearhart listed a
total of $2,120 in contributions and receipts for the year and only $717 for
the period between April 9 and Oct. 14. The only contributions he lists $50
from Hobart resident Mike Stulac and $220 from the Porter County Young
campaign reported just $1,249. He reported making an $800 contribution of
his own, making him his own biggest supporter, as well as a $1,663 loan.
Other contributors listed are Mike and Bridget Jessen of Valparaiso ($100);
Valparaiso Police Chief Mike Brickner ($75); and John Jandura of Chesterton
Other races this
year include the County Treasurer and County Surveyor.
race put up some impressive figures with Democrat incumbent Michelle Clancy
reporting $23,663 in contributions and receipts, with most raised from
residents and businesses of Portage.
contributor is PRP Leasing of Portage, with $2,500; followed by Samuelson
Insurance Agency of Portage, with $2,000. Her biggest individual supporter
is Bonnie Aguda of Chicago, with $1,500.
The Citizens for
Chuck (Moseley) Committee also gave $1,500 to Clancy.
$1,000 are The Ross Group, Inc. of Portage; Allen’s Snow Removal & Lawn Care
of Portage; and Boilermakers Local 374 PAC Fund of Hammond.