Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor candidates agree on need for new businesses in town

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Candidates for contested races in Tuesday’s Burns Harbor Town Council election agree on one thing: the town’s 2009 comprehensive plan needs to be implemented, and soon.

Most candidates say a wider diversity of businesses need to locate there, and the Town Council should do more to help that come about.

There’s also a race for Clerk-treasurer this year. Jane Jordan, the eight-year Democratic incumbent, is opposed by Republican Beverly Sutton,

Long-time Town council incumbents Republican Mike Perrine, Ward 1, and Democrat James McGee, Ward 2, both are unopposed on the ballot.

In Ward 3, Democrat Cliff Fleming opted not to seek a second term. Hoping to replace him are Republican Jeff Freeze and Democrat Eric Hull. Hull did not respond to a Chesterton Tribune questionnaire.

Freeze said he’s been involved with or has been a member of government boards for 15 years. He also cites his business experience in organizational and financial matters, says that he will represent town residents honestly and ethically, and that meeting attendance should be a priority for all council members.

Additional priorities would be to implement the comprehensive plan, the companion downtown district and foster enhanced relationships with businesses, both existing and future. He supports tax abatement in general but pledges to act in the town’s best interest, both short- and long-term.

Burns Harbor has two At-Large council seats and neither incumbent, Democrat Louis Bain or Republican Toni Biancardi, is seeking re-election.

That opens the door for either Republicans Jack Given and Rick Hummel, or Democrats Gregory Miller and Gene Weibl, to claim an At-Large win. Weibl did not respond by the deadline to a Chesterton Tribune questionnaire.

Given, who said he’s trained in conflict resolution and bringing about solutions, feels the town needs a new image and the environmentally friendly Art of Green Living slogan chosen for the community’s branding efforts will lend itself to marketing tie-ins. He also wants the master plan implemented and believes the town needs more openness, honesty, transparency and accountability.

With three of the Town Council seats guaranteed to be new members, Given said that will help improve town government and its business efficiency. He plans to foster integrity and pride in the work of government and service to the town.

Hummel would use his educational background in business administration and project management to serve the town. He, too, wants to implement the comprehensive plan, move forward with capital improvements, and cooperate with other agencies on the Marquette Pathway project that envisions a Burns Harbor hike/bike trail.

Hummel believes moving forward with development of the downtown district, as well as using tax abatement and other tools as needed, will bring economic growth to benefit town residents, from whom he would seek their views and opinions.

Miller said he’d use his experience as an electrician/process technician and as a board member for three Northwest Indiana non-profits to implement his clear vision for the town; that includes development of the downtown district with retail options, job opportunities and services the residents deserve.

Streamlining bureaucratic hurdles and creating incentives will lure new businesses here, he added. The town tax base needs to be diversified, and the people’s business needs to be conducted efficiently, transparently, and in a way that promotes the good of all residents, not just a few, said Miller.

Jordan, who holds advanced certifications as a municipal clerk, said her priorities will be to reduce operating costs, pay down debt to save money, and develop new revenue to supplement property taxes. She hopes in another term to add to the over 23,000 pages of town documents and records she’s scanned electronically to preserve them so they can be re-created if lost.

Sutton, semi-retired with a background in accounting and responsibility for budgeted money and payroll for 50 to 175 employees, said she would look for available grants for the town to stretch its dollars, help foster an atmosphere conducive to attracting new business, and listen to citizens’ concerns and direct residents how and where to get them resolved.

All candidates responding to the more-detailed Chesterton Tribune questionnaire addressed specific campaign issues. Their answers in the Freeze/Hull race and in the Sutton/Jordan race were published Oct. 31. Answers in the At-Large race between Given, Hummel, Miller and Weibl were published Nov. 2. All can be found at



Posted 11/7/2011