Chesterton Tribune



Primary election and school referendum results are certified

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The municipal primary went smoothly and Porter County is preparing for changes to come, according to Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey.

The Porter County Election Board met for its regular meeting and to certify the results of the municipal primary Friday afternoon.

Bailey told the Board Election Day went well, despite a few hiccups in the morning that caused eight precincts to open late. Approximately 12,000 voters participated this election.

The Board struck only three ballots from 10 provisionals that were cast. Two were voters who failed to provide proper identification. One failed to confirm residency.

The three voters will get letters explaining why their votes were struck, so they can register properly for the next election, Bailey said.

Bailey reported voter feedback on the new machines has been positive, and poll workers are giving their feedback in surveys. By Friday afternoon, she reported 120 of the 306 workers who worked the 2019 primary had already returned their surveys, which were sent out Thursday morning.

In other business, Bailey said she’s coordinating with the County Council and the Board of Commissioners to make sure the Election Board transitions smoothly to its new format.

A new law, drafted and passed in response to the chaotic 2018 general election where 13 polling places opened up to two hours late and results were delayed until Nov. 9 amid a flurry of poll worker and voter complaints, dictates changes to Porter County’s election process. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson concluded the election was mismanaged by the former clerk and rife with personality conflicts among others in leadership roles.

Come July 1, the current three-member Board will expand to five members--one new Republican and one new Democrat member to be appointed by the respective party chairs. All members will be subject to the County employee handbook, including anti-nepotism policies.

The Board will hold a meeting on July 1 to swear in new members at a yet to be determined time and location.

Kuziela V. Allison Complaint

The Board also held hearings addressing two formal complaints against candidates.

Chesterton Clerk-treasurer, and Chair of the Duneland district of the Porter County Republican Party, Stephanie Kuziela filed a complaint May 2 alleging that Robert Allison, the Democrat candidate for Chesterton’s 3rd ward Town Council seat who ultimately won the nomination, did not have a proper disclaimer on his campaign signs.

Indiana Code requires that all yard signs have a disclaimer in at least 12 point type detailing who paid for the advertisement. Kuziela said she filed the complaint after seeing one of Allison’s signs, sans disclaimer, in a Town of Porter right-of-way at 23rd Street and Marquette.

Allison said he added a compliant disclaimer to every sign within 36 hours of the complaint being filed.

Kuziela said she doesn’t want further action since Allison has fixed the signs.

Allison apologized for his mistake, saying that his first time running for office has been a learning experience. He said he thought a simple phone call from Kuziela about the signs would have sufficed.

“I’ve run a positive campaign. I haven’t slung any mud. Regardless of the people who don’t want me in office, I’ve got the Democratic nomination,” Allison said. “I’m not gonna be deterred by any bullying acts. I’m gonna continue to run a positive campaign.”

The Board considered the matter resolved, but Bailey told Allison that formal complaints are realities of running for office, which is a legal process with proper channels to follow.

“Not everyone follows the rules. Just because someone files a complaint doesn’t mean they’re mudslinging,” Bailey said.

Board President David Welter agreed: “We can’t expect you to take a phone call from the opposing party and take their advice, so I think that Mrs. Kuziela did the proper thing here.”

The second complaint was between Nina Rivas and Liz Modesto. Rivas won the Democrat nomination for Portage Clerk-treasurer over Modesto and complained that Modesto’s campaign finance reports weren’t exhaustive.

Modesto’s husband Tom, who records her finances, said he was given bad advice by Victoria Gresham at the Clerk’s office when he called and asked how to record individual tickets from a fundraiser.

Regardless, Modesto re-recorded her contributions and submitted a revised campaign finance form, to the Board’s satisfaction.

Bailey offered that campaign finance reports aren’t easy to fill out. She said contributions are cumulative, for example, if someone buys a fundraiser ticket for $50 and later buys another, the total donation has exceeded the $100 reporting standard and must be disclosed.


Posted 5/20/2019






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