In the general
election Tuesday, Nov. 3, Republican Jim Biggs will defend his North
district seat on the Porter County Board of Commissioners against Democrat
challenger Becky Mateja Lombardini.
voting began Tuesday in Porter County.
All Porter County
voters vote in this race. The candidates are required to live in one of the
five North County Townships.
Tribune invited both to participate in a candidate questionnaire. The
Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for length.
1) Age, place of
Biggs: Age: 62.
Residence: Chesterton. Occupation: Director of Business, Great Lakes Labs.
am 54. Iíve lived in Porter for 20 years. I am a small business owner,
consultant, and instructor at Indiana University Northwest.
2) For Biggs: Why
are you seeking re-election to the County Board of Commissioners? (75 words)
Biggs: I enjoy
serving the public. I also believe that the majority of our residents
appreciate the job that the current board of commissioners have been doing.
Especially, during these difficult times.
For Lombardini: Why
are you seeking election to the County Board of Commissioners? (75 words)
was slated for commissioner because ďweĒ--myself, the Porter County
Democrats, and other community members thought it would be good for our
party, system, and most importantly country that we have an option.
Especially after helping Frank Mrvan for Congress, I saw positive politics
and developed strong relationships. Competition should bring out the best in
people. Win or not, I will still help Porter County and our area thrive.
3) For Biggs:
Describe your achievements in office. (100 words)
achievements by the board of commissioners would be the renovation of the
county courthouse, Expo Center, and North County Court Annex. In addition,
we have restructured the county health insurance program and county employee
policy manual, rebuilt the stormwater system in South Haven, which is the
largest populated community located in an unincorporated area in our state,
and took on the huge undertaking of extending Willowcreek Road out to State
Route 130 for the purpose of creating another major north/south
transportation route here in our county.
What specific skill sets would you bring to the Board of Commissioners if
elected? (100 words)
Certain skills are needed in any successful venture--for example listening,
collaborating, and applying best practices. I am also fiscally responsible.
I formulated that putting myself through college on a basketball scholarship
where I learned about teamwork and leadership as well. Iím also a hard
working individual from blue collar immigrant grandparents and parlayed that
into my career while raising three children. I thank my parents for those
lessons. And finally, I am a servant leader. I admire the teachings of
Stephen Covey, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that I strive to
emulate every day.
4) For Biggs: As a
sitting Commissioner, what are two things you think the Board could have
handled better in the past four years? Explain. (100 words)
Developing a better understanding of a situation or event only after it has
happened or developed is common. With that said, county government employs
more than 1000 employees, manages an annual budget of more than $45 million
dollars, maintains more than 900 miles of county roads, and operates and
maintains 18 buildings that provide services for nearly 170,000 residents.
Weíre good at what we do, but we are not perfect. Given all those
responsibilities, itís probably fair to say that there are many things we
could have handled better. This is exactly why we continuously look for
smarter and better solutions.
For Lombardini: As
a citizen seeking election to the Board, what are two things you think the
Board of Commissioners has done a good job of the past four years? Explain.
an average citizen, I donít think folks know the term ďcommissionersĒ or
what they do exactly. As a candidate, Iíve been learning quite a bit,
gleaning everything I can in these past three months since taking on this
honor. First, we have a beautiful county and good quality of life that many
people who live here contribute to on a daily basis. Second, I would imagine
overseeing a large, transparent, and fair budget is always a top task for an
executive. And from what Iíve seen, the auditor and the council help round
out the implementation of that duty.
yourself from your opponent and indicate why in particular you believe
yourself to be the better candidate. (100 words)
Experience. Iíve been elected three different times to the Porter County
Board of Commissioners, and twice to our county council. I hold a masterís
degree in Public Safety Administration, served as a criminal fraud
investigator for the Indiana Attorney Generalís Office, and have served on
literally dozens of local and state government boards throughout the years.
As a public official, I have helped other county officials manage our county
through several difficult times throughout the years. Such as, fiscal
challenges caused by various economic downturns in our economy, damaging
storms, severe county jail overcrowding, and a pandemic.
Aside from the obvious, Iím very qualified; I just havenít had a ďformalĒ
government title. I have been involved in many endeavors and led them to
their goals, from a Wellness Center Manager at Ford Motor Company with
Johnson & Johnson to a Community Relations Coordinator for Community Health
Care Systems. But, I believe what really differentiates me is my fresh
perspective, and I hope that the voters will embrace that with me. Also, not
having a ďfull-time positionĒ elsewhere will allow me to devote more to this
role and remain involved in the community as I have been.
6) What are the key
issues in this race? (75 words)
proven experience to help successfully manage county government through
these difficult times.
Like most, I am pensive about my familyís health, our economy, and
education. As for the commissionerís race, one is fair contracting--getting
three bids from local contractors with planned labor agreements. Another is
good decision making--weighing options especially regarding the interest on
the investment of the hospital sale. A third is caring for our
resources--like our beaches and parks where visitors should pay, follow the
rules, and clean up after themselves. Namaste.
7) What are your
priorities for use of the funds in the Porter County Non-profit Charitable
Foundation? (75 words)
Biggs: The only
priority I have for the $170 million in our foundation is to see that itís
not spent foolishly. I will continue to support using a portion of the
interest derived from its principle investments, as weíve done, to repair
and improve county buildings without raising taxes. Because county officials
have not squandered these funds away, it all but guarantees that weíre
uniquely positioned to handle almost any unforeseen problem that might
believe that our officials should be able to contemplate various ideas
presented and decide how to best utilize the funds based on our citizens
here. Of special interest to me, are actions that build strong bonds like
recreation and keeping our children safe, especially from temptations.
8) National issues
often dominate political conversations, and some would say tensions are
running especially high due to the upcoming presidential election. Explain
why local government is where youíve chosen to serve and why itís important
to you. (100 words)
Biggs: As a
lifelong resident of our county, as well as a county government official, I
have learned firsthand over the years that all levels of local government
can have an immediate and profound effect on the quality of life for our
residents who live here. Itís local units of governments that manage our
schools, libraries, parks, roads, utilities, bridges, courts, jails, and our
local income taxes and property taxes. All of these things are important to
me, and this is why I have chosen to serve within county government.
a family values-driven individual. I believe itís really important to start
there--teaching, motivating, and providing with love, honor, and compassion.
I have dedicated my life to helping others, and now is a good time to
utilize what Iíve learned to help in an official political, although I feel
ďpublic serviceĒ capacity. Local is the heart of community and working with
those at different levels is an integral part of the success. With energy,
support, an open mind, savvy, respect, and tolerance, we can make a huge
difference in our communities where we spend most of our time.
9) Describe an
experience you have had outside of serving in/campaigning for local
government office that elevated your understanding of how local government
affects everyday people. (125 words)
most of our residents, I pay property taxes, and income taxes. I own a home,
and I have raised a family here in our county. I am also a small business
owner here in our county.
have been fortunate enough to travel throughout the world taking in best
practices. Itís a good barometer to see how others live and view society.
Politics--our policies, our beliefs, and our behavior is intricately linked
to our results. As Margaret Mead said, ďNever underestimate the power of one
voice.Ē Because our opinions directly impact local issues and decisions, it
affects each of us. For example, I was very proud of the students, including
mine, at Chesterton High School, taking on ďMarch for Our LivesĒ, the
beginnings of impact makers in ďlocalĒ government.
10) The COVID-19
pandemic is a crisis the likes of which our nation hasnít seen in over a
century--since the 1918 influenza epidemic. What are your specific plans for
leading Porter County through this crisis? (125 words)
the commissioners should continue to work closely with our county health
department and the Indiana State Department of Health until the pandemic
subsides, and it will. We should also continue to provide important and
useful information to our residents to assist them in becoming more informed
as the issues surrounding the pandemic continue to evolve. Lastly, as a
county commissioner, I believe it is important to understand that this
pandemic has had and will continue to have an effect on our county finances.
As such, it will be important to understand and smartly manage that effect
Iíve always been diligent, done good, and had faith. When you have an issue,
as Pete Visclosky said, you gather the facts. If you have a problem, you
isolate and care for it until itís better and can reenter the group that
continues to engage so they can remain mentally sharp, productive, and calm.
Specifically, Iíd work with the county health department and the governor to
mitigate the situation, following all prescribed mandates until weíre
confident that our statistics are nearing normal readings so we can function
within accepted parameters. As I learned in my masterís program in Public
Affairs, ďAll decisions are economic.Ē We are constantly weighing the risk
to benefit ratio. I would like to help make those wise and caring decisions.