Chesterton Tribune

Blaney easily takes South County Commissioner Democrat nomination

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

While the county commissioner races on the Republican ticket had pretty substantial margins of 40/60 percent, the one Commissioner race on the Democratic ballots in Tuesday’s primary election had an even wider margin.

Winning candidate and current county council at-large member Laura Shurr Blaney who took 4,812 votes countywide, 78 percent of the vote.

Her opponent Jerry Puckett had 1,354.

Blaney was one of three county council members who made the bid for a commissioner seat this year and was the only one to succeed. In her campaign, Blaney said she believes she can do more as a policy maker than in her current role of setting the county budget.

Puckett was a new name to county politics which he said may have been a factor in his defeat since Blaney has sat on the county council for six years. He also surmises that his numbers could have been bigger if more people turned out to vote in the election. The voter turnout was down compared to 2008’s presidential primary election with a 21.3 percent turnout this year.

The two candidates complimented each other on running positive, issue-oriented campaigns.

“(Laura) has been a great opponent to work with,” Puckett said. “Right now I am just going to take a rest and work with Laura on her campaign should she need any additional help.”

Puckett said the election was a “good experience” and hinted he may run again in the future.

Blaney thanked the voters and the people who showed their support for her campaign. She said Puckett stuck to the issues and ran a positive campaign.

Her next challenge will be to face Mike Heinhold who won the Republican nomination on Tuesday (see related story). The winner of November’s general election will succeed outgoing County Commissioner Carol Knoblock who did not seek reelection.

“I’m guessing it’s going to be a tight race,” Blaney said, who said she has respect for Heinhold but believes her years of experience in public office will give her a leg up on the election. She hopes to provide some bipartisan representation on what could be a Republican-dominated board.

If elected, Blaney will make her commissioner post her full-time job and is eager to get started.

“Based on the overall field of winners I think there’s a clear direction the residents of Porter County want things to move,” Blaney said.

Blaney took all four of the Duneland townships (Westchester, Liberty, Jackson, Pine) with 1,634 votes. Puckett, who had 528 Duneland votes, held his best margin in Liberty Township with 30.4 percent of the vote.

 

Posted 5/9/2012