Chesterton Tribune


Commissioner and judge races most expensive in the county

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Friday marked a deadline for those running in 2012 Porter County elections to disclose their campaign donations taken in over the past six months.

The numbers are tepid compared to the 2010 elections but once again donors are contributing more to Commissioner candidates than for any other county race.

Republican candidate for the South County Commissioner seat Mike Heinold claims the biggest war chest with a total of $55,168 in contributions, receipts and cash on-hand from the reporting period of April 14 to October 12. His year-to-date total is $58,925.

Handing Heinold his biggest donation of $5,200 is HealtheACCESS Clinics of Portage. The company has been part of the county’s current health care plan. From his largest individual donors, Heinold received $5,000 each from Stewart and Kathryn McMillan of Valparaiso and Matthew Gariup of Gary. He also received the same amount from the Indiana Realtors Political Action Committee.

Heinold’s other donations of $1,000 or more include the G.E. Marshall group of Valparaiso ($2,600); In Touch Pharmaceuticals of Valparaiso ($2,500); Apple Core, LLC of Hobart ($2,500); Steiner Homes LTD of Valparaiso ($2,500); the Friends of (State Representative) Ed Soliday committee ($2,250); Willis Conner of Indianapolis ($1,000); Kurt Schmiegel of Valparaiso ($1,000); Kurt Minko of Valparaiso ($1,000); Gus and Beth Olympidis of Valparaiso ($1,000); Jay Costas Comp. of Valparaiso ($1,000); and Barnes and Thornburg LLP ($1,000).

Challenging Heinold, Democrat Laura Shurr Blaney reported a total of smaller total of $46,877 for campaign contributions and receipts and $49,772 for the YTD. Blaney, a current at-large County Council member now running for Commissioner, reported a $13,000 donation from herself towards her election bid.

Blaney’s largest individual donor amount came from attorney Mitch Peters of Chesterton, $1,450. Peters is the current president of the Porter County Convention Recreation and Visitors Commission board.

Other big contributions came from Rhame & Elwood of Portage who gave $1,300 and from Blaney’s father-in-law Ken Blaney Sr. who dished out $1,200. Indianapolis residents Michael and Vicki Keevan also gave $1,200.

A few more notable contributions for the reporting period included $600 from Iron Workers Local 395 PAL, $500 from the Valparaiso Firefighters PAC, $150 from Sheriff Dave Lain and $100 from Democratic County Council at-large member Sylvia Graham.

In April, Blaney reported a $20,000 individual donation from her aunt Jacki Stutzman towards her successful primary election bid against challenger Jerry Puckett.

Running unopposed in November, Northern County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, reported $38,063 in donations in the most recent reporting period, most of which were related to the May 6 primary election where he dodged a challenge from current County Council 1st District Representative Jim Biggs.

Evan’s got a last minute gift of $2,500 each from Stewart and Kathryn McMillan of Valparaiso and the Indiana Republican State Committee. He also received sizable donations of $3,000 from DPBG Political Action Committee of Indianapolis, $2,250 from the Indiana Realtors PAC and $1,500 from the Committee to Elect (Valparaiso Mayor) Jon Costas.

Judge race heating up

Democratic incumbent William Alexa has taken in $30,650 for his re-election bid for Porter County Superior Court II Judge. Approximately $7,300 of that is an in-kind donation from his wife Joyce Alexa.

Contributing to Alexa’s war chest are numerous attorneys from the Valparaiso area. Some of his other large contributors include Sound Construction of Valparaiso ($1,200); Vouga & Associates, LLC of Valparaiso ($900); Gary S. Germann of Portage ($700); Thiros and Stracci Professional Corp. of Merrillville ($700); and Gordon Etzler and Associates LLP ($450).

Alexa’s GOP challenger attorney Anthony Pampalone raised a little more than half as much with $18,503 in his total contributions and receipts. Top donors for Pampalone are Angelo Pampalone ($7,100), Dyer physician Erika Young ($5,000), and a $3,147 contribution to himself.

Council Races

While nowhere near the peaks of the Commissioner hopefuls, the candidates for the three County Council at-large seats are running tight races.

From the six that are running (3 Republicans, 3 Democrats), the candidate with the most contributions and expenditures is Republican Ralph Neff with $21,067 in the last six months and $28,650 for the year so far.

According to Neff’s report, his biggest backers are the Indiana Republican State Committee with $2,250; Gariup Construction of Gary ($1,200); Lazlo and Popp, PC of Merrillville ($1,000); and Braman Insurance Services ($750). He also garnered a $200 gift from County Commissioner John Evans.

Current Council President and Democratic incumbent Dan Whitten takes the title of biggest war chest on the Democrat side with $18,588 over the last six months and $19,622 for the year.

Pitching in for Whitten’s third term win are Mitch Peters of Chesterton ($1,000); Clark Holesinger of Valparaiso ($1,000); Kevin Schmidt of Valparaiso ($1,000); and former County Commissioner Robert Harper ($500). Whitten also loaned himself $1,526.

Coming in third and fourth are the other two Republican Candidates Joe Wszolek and Mark Hoffman. Wszolek claimed $11,061 for the last six months and $13,715 for the year so far. Hoffman took in $12,572 for this reporting period and $12,800 for the year.

Wszolek captured $5,000 from the Indiana Realtors PAC and $4,000 from the Indiana Republican State Committee. He also received $500 from the Valparaiso Firefighters PAC and $250 from the Committee to Elect (County Commissioner) Nancy Adams.

Hoffman reported a $2,500 donation from the Indiana Realtors PAC; $1,500 from Royal Brush Manufacturing of Munster; and $1,000 from Frank A. Hoffman of Zionsville.

As for the remaining Democrat candidates, Bob Poparad reported a $10,000 contribution in his own name.

Incumbent Sylvia Graham reported the least amount of contributions and expenditures with $8,599 for the last six months and $9,735 for a YTD total. She reported a $4,000 loan from herself to her campaign. Her largest individual contributor was Mitch Peters of Chesterton ($1,000). Graham also received $200 from USW Local Union #12775 of Porter.

Duneland School Board

Two candidates running for the non-partisan Duneland School Board race submitted campaign figures. Candidate Dane Lafata reported a $343 loan to himself. Candidate John Marshall showed a $700 loan to himself.


The county’s other contested race for Surveyor provided modest figures from both candidates. Democratic incumbent Kevin Breitzke reported $2,500 in expenditures for printing costs.

Republican challenger Richard Hudson reported $3,384 in contributions and receipts with $4,998 for the year. His backers include GAI Consultants, where Hudson works as a senior survey manager, with a $500 contribution.

Dems vs. GOP

County Democrats are shelling out larger numbers to their county central committee this year than their GOP counterparts.

The Porter County Democrat Central Committee reported a figure of $42,230 so far this year from contributions, receipts and cash on hand, mostly from candidates and labor organizations.

Giving $1,000 or more are Visclosky for Congress Committee ($2,500); Iron Workers Local 395 ($2,000); Local 6787 Political Education and Legislative Fund ($1,600); Laborer Local 41 of Munster ($1,440); Rhame & Elwood of Portage ($1,150); USW Local 6103 of Portage ($1,000); Boilermakers Local #374 of Hammond ($1,000); Tallian for Senate Campaign Committee ($1,000); First District Democrat Central Committee ($1,000); and Blaney for Commissioner committee ($1,000).

Meanwhile, the Porter County Republican Central Committee reported their intake to be $20,877 for the year so far.

Its biggest supporter is Golden Technologies of Valparaiso with $2,000, followed by CC Low Associates of South Bend with $1,000. Other contributions stemmed from South County Commissioner candidate Mike Heinold ($500), County Recorder Jon Miller ($340), and Chesterton Town Councilman Jeff Trout ($205).

The Valparaiso Republican group claimed $11,498 for its YTD total. Its chief contributors are DLZ Indiana LLC ($2,000); DLZ Industrial LLC of Burns Harbor ($1,000); and Family Express Corp. of Valparaiso ($935).

The Duneland GOP submitted its figures reporting a cash in-hand total of $789.





Posted 10/22/2012