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