By KEVIN NEVERS
Candidate: Emerson DeLaney.
Incumbent: 5th District seat, Chesterton Town Council.
Term: Four years.
Family: Wife, four children.
Occupation: Store manager, Hopkins Ace Hardware.
Emerson DeLaney is no stranger to public service. While still living in
Hammond, he was appointed by the governor to sit on the Little Calumet River
Basin Development Commission, on which he served three years as president.
That seat he resigned, after moving to Chesterton, to serve a term on the
Board of Zoning Appeals. Then, in 2007, he was elected to the 5th District
seat on the Town Council. Now DeLaney is seeking re-election.
“This current Town Council has done a lot of good things for our community,”
DeLaney says. “We meld well together. And with moneys we are entrusted with,
we have been able to accomplish a lot, with parks, infrastructure, the
future growth of our community. I want to continue to see that through.”
Among the council’s achievements this term, DeLaney counts these: the
friendly annexation of around 140 acres on both sides of Ind. 49 south of
the Indiana Toll Road; the creation of a new tax increment financing
district to fund the installation of utilities along the Ind. 49 corridor;
and the appointment of Fire Chief Mike Orlich, Police Chief Dave Cincoski,
Building Commissioner Dave Novak, and Town Manager Bernie Doyle. “These are
all things that are going to help us grow in the future and prosper.”
And then too there are the “beautification projects,” DeLaney adds. “The
South Calumet District, that’s a wonderful project. A lot of sidewalks. The
street signs. Those are CEDIT moneys. You put nice wrappers on things,
people like that.”
DeLaney includes among his own achievements organizing the Chesterton Cruise
Night in the Downtown, formerly in conjunction with the Duneland Business
Initiative Group, this year with the Parks and Recreation Department;
running “interference” for Kay and Joe Gersna, who only just purchased the
fire damaged house at 616 S. Second St. with the idea of rehabbing it,
making demolition unnecessary; and being involved in the appointment of both
Orlich and Cincoski.
“There’s a lot of things I have done but I’m not one to toot my horn,”
DeLaney says. “A lot of business people in town have come to me and
residents too, asking for help in different things. Because I’m very
tangible, I’m very tangible in the town. I feel that I have done a good job
for the residents of our community and I want to continue to do that.”
Of the candidacy of his opponent in the primary, fellow Republican Tristan
Ziska, DeLaney says this: “I welcome it. This is America. You can do what
you want to do. There’s always somebody with a better idea. I welcome it.”
Economic development has been a priority of the current Town Council,
DeLaney says. It will be the next one’s priority as well: “to maintain
and/or enhance town services and infrastructure,” as he puts it. “When you
put all those elements in place, you’re going to continue to have population
growth in our bedroom community. But we’re also going to have retail,
professional, and light manufacturing.”
And all signs, DeLaney says, are pointing in the right direction. For one
thing, the few light manufacturing sites in town “are being looked at. In
these economic times, for people to be looking is a great, great thing.”
“There’s also a lot of interest in our Downtown area,” DeLaney says.
“But the big thing is medical and I think people are finally getting the
message,” he observes. Saint Anthony Memorial Health Center has begun
construction of the 24-hour ER department on Indian Boundary Road; the Town
Council granted a 10-year tax abatement to Long Term Care Investments to
build a nursing home on Dickinson Road; and there is the medical campus,
anchored by the Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute, at Coffee Creek Center.
To those concerned about the possibility of a big box’s being developed in
town, DeLaney would say this: if a Wal-Mart or similar corporation “wanted
to come in and plop down on the Rossman property (south of the Toll Road),
and if they jumped through every hoop, crossed every t, and dotted
every i, we couldn’t stop them. It’s in the (planned unit development
ordinance). But the PUD’s pretty tight, pretty restrictive.”
But given that Chesterton is located so close to Michigan City, Portage, and
Valparaiso—with big box shopping near at hand—“for one of them to want to
come here, it’s going to take a lot.”
“I’m 56, my father was a school teacher, there were seven kids, so I know
what frugal is all about,” DeLaney concludes. “The American Dream back then
was to live and work within your own community. I have achieved that. I look
at it this way. I’ve got the Great American Dream. I live and work within
the community. I also work for the community. You talk about personal
achievements. It’s helping the residents within our community achieve what
they want, that’s what a councilman does, is supposed to do.”