With the town of Burns Harbor seemingly at a crossroads, Democrat voters
attended Tuesday night’s caucus en masse to have their voices heard.
Eighty-one registered voters and about a dozen guests crammed into the Burns
Harbor Town Hall to hear short campaign pitches and decide on their Democrat
nominees for the November town council election.
Normally, 50 would be a large number in attendance.
With talk about a developing rift in the town of just 1,100 residents
circulating, it was the candidates who vowed to bring the new and old
factions together that did best in the ballot box.
In the at-large race, Gene Weibl (58 votes) and Gregory Miller (46) both
used their five-minute speeches to promise to do the best for the entire
town, not any specific portion. Those two earned nomination over Marcus
Rogala (28) and James Constantine (13).
“The talk of separate communities bothers me,” Weibl, a Burns Harbor
resident of 19 years, said in his speech. “We all have common interests and
need to be on the same page. There are a lot of things this town can be and
we need people with a vision for the future of what this town can be. With
controlled and intelligent growth it can stay a great place to live.”
Miller, who has lived in the town for just two years, said it was the sense
of community and the people that brought him to Burns Harbor and he wants a
comprehensive plan that will serve everyone.
“People are coming from all over,” Miller said. “These people will cause
development to happen. The question is whether it will be controlled and
planned or be haphazard.”
In the closest race of the night, the incumbent James McGee defeated
first-time nominee Kurt Jordan 43-36 for the Ward 2 nomination. McGee wasn’t
in attendance because of a family emergency, but received support from Weibl.
“Jim has been on the town council for a long time,” Weibl said. “He tries to
bring a very thoughtful approach to the decisions he makes. He has been an
asset to this town.”
In Ward 3, where incumbent Cliff Fleming decided not to run for re-election,
Eric Hull defeated Raymond Poparad 46-34 to earn the nomination.
“A lot of great people have done great things to make (Burns Harbor) what it
is today,” Hull, a seven-year resident said. “I want to learn from the
progress they made and not repeat the mistakes. I want to be involved with
the people and find out exactly what is the best option.”
No Democrat ran for the nomination for the fifth seat on the town council,
which is held by Republican Mike Perrine.
On the GOP Side
There will be no need for a Republican caucus, on the other hand, as all
four Republican candidates are running unopposed.
•Ward 1: incumbent Robert “Mike” Perrine.
•Ward 3: Jeffrey Freeze.
•At-large: Rick Hummel and Jack Given.