Chesterton Tribune



GOP Caucus elects Bozak to fill Porter County Council seat

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Burns Harbor Town Council Member Andy Bozak has been elected by a Republican caucus to the open 1st District seat on the Porter County Council.

The caucus was held Thursday night at the Chesterton town hall.

Bozak beat two other candidates in the two-ballot election: Portage Fire Chief Thomas Fieffer, a resident of Chesterton; and Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st.

None of the three candidates received a majority of votes on the first ballot. Fieffer, however, received the fewest and his name was dropped on the second ballot. The 22 of 29 eligible precinct committeemen present then voted again. In announcing Bozak to be the winner, Porter County GOP Chair Michael Simpson declined--as is his custom in caucuses--to reveal the vote totals.

The open 1st District seat on the County Council was created when the incumbent, Republican Jim Biggs, was elected in November to the open North District seat on the County Commissioners.

Bozak, 33, is the director of operations at Reliable Trucking in Chesterton. He was elected to the Burns Harbor Town Council in 2015, serves on both the Advisory Plan Commission and the Redevelopment Commission, and is a previous member of the Park Board.

Each candidate, in alphabetical order, was introduced by a supporter, who had two minutes to speak. Each candidate then had three minutes to speak.

Bozak was introduced by newly elected Porter County Council Member Jeff Larson, at large, a Liberty Township resident; Fieffer, by Portage Major James Snyder; and Ton, by Chesterton Town Council Member Nate Cobbs, R-4th.

Larson, in his introduction, called Bozak “electable, knowledgeable, and hardworking,” spoke of his “sound moral character” and noted him to be a “devoted family man,” said he “can access a variety of supporters reaching across party lines,” and observed that Bozak has “excelled at hard work.”

Bozak began by thanking his family for its support and then talked a bit about his involvement in the community, including his service as a State Park Little League coach and SPLL Treasurer and as a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Patrick Catholic Church. As operations manager at Reliable Transportation, Bozak said, he manages “office personnel and 150 drivers every day.” Bozak also pledged to bring “thoroughness” to the County Council and pointed to his commitment to the GOP. “I’ve been very active in the Republican Party.”

In introducing Fieffer, Mayor Snyder noted that Fieffer was “the one department holdover I kept” in his new administration, in what “is often spoken of as my best decision.” Fieffer, Snyder said, “will fight for your district and its needs,” has made the Portage FD the “premiere” department in the state and in doing so has secured “millions in public safety grants,” and will bring to the County Council seat both “longevity and electability.” Fieffer’s candidacy, Snyder concluded, “will be an asset to the entire Republican ticket.”

Fieffer, for his part, told the committeemen that, “being conservative, I think we should hold ourselves to a budget,” and added that, following a “failed Democrat administration” in the City of Portage, the succeeding Republican administration “balanced the budget, created a surplus, and gave raises to employees.” Fieffer also spoke of his “life experience,” his marriage of 28 years, and his children, who attend the Duneland Schools. “Service and public safety are embedded in me,” he said.

Speaking of Ton, Cobbs said this: “I’ve known Jim Ton for 25 years, as a principal, as a personal friend, as a colleague, as a mentor.” Cobbs likewise endorsed Ton’s electability, noted that he’s been elected five times to the Chesterton Town Council, served for many years as well on the Police Commission, and most recently has been extremely active on the Executive Board of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, last year serving as board chair, where he managed a $2.1 million budget. “I can’t imagine anyone better to serve our interests,” Cobbs concluded.

Ton spoke of the need for “fiscal responsibility,” a “balanced budget,” and “fiduciary responsibility,” stated that “You don’t solve a problem by throwing money at it,” and praised the County Council for its work in building a “great foundation,” namely, the charitable foundation, the jail, and the new animal shelter. “Now let’s put the walls up and the floor and ceiling on,” Ton said. As the chair of NIRPC’s Executive Board, he added, “I have a county perspective. I’ve managed 60 different chairs and councilmen. It isn’t easy. People in Lake County have a different perspective on spending public money.”

The 22 precinct committeemen who voted on Thursday: Harry Miller (Jackson 1/2); Jake Hreha (J5); Nate Cobbs (Liberty 1); Jeff Larson (L2); Jacquelyn Sterling (L3/4); John Evans (L5); Krista Tracy (L6); Richard Rikoski (Pine 1/2); Jonathan Miller (Westchester 1); Jim Biggs (W3); Stephanie Kuziela (W4); Linda Trinkler (W5); Andy Bozak (W6); Dave Cincoski (W8); Emerson DeLaney (W9); Kevin Tracy (W11); Travis Gearhart (W12); Jeff Trout (W14); Jim Ton (W17); Mark Acevedo (W18); Rich Hudson (Center 11); and Thomas Dogan (Portage 4).



Posted 1/6/2017




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