Chesterton Tribune

Commissioner races: GOP voters pick Evans and Heinold

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John Evans is one election away from earning a fourth term as Porter County’s Northern District Commissioner.

In the most heated race in the county primary elections, Evans took a 8,117 votes on Republican ballots nearly 20 percent more than opponent and current 1st District County Council Representative Jim Biggs’ 5,601.

In the South District Republican race, Mike Heinold defeated Jim Polarek.

Evans vs. Biggs

In the North District race Biggs held a slightly better ratio in the Duneland area consisting of Westchester, Pine, Liberty and Jackson Townships with 41.32 percent of the vote compared to 40.83 percent countywide. He captured 1,890 of the Duneland votes while Evans took 2,684.

Biggs performed better in Jackson and Liberty Townships with 47.3 percent and 44.1 percent respectively while Evans was strongest in Pine with 63 percent.

Evans ran his campaign on the hope of bringing more jobs to the county, saying the execution of a plan by the newly formed County Jobs Cabinet would be his main goal going into his next term. He said the plan will direct new business and industrial growth as the county expands. Evans has shown a propensity for partnering with municipalities such as the possibility of sharing building space with Valparaiso and Portage and voted to accept Chesterton’s offer of including the county in the Ind. 49 Utility Corridor project.

Biggs’ campaign centered on needed funding for the county’s Enhanced 911 system which is operating at a deficit of close to $2.5 million per year and whose rainy day funds are estimated to run out in 2014. He promised voters that he would lessen the county’s dependability on outside consultants if elected and would work to form a strategic comprehensive operations plan addressing ways of how the county’s finances and recurring costs would be handled.

Having sealed a victory Tuesday night, Evans told the Chesterton Tribune he is “glad (the primary election) is over” and has his eyes set on improving the communication between the board of commissioners and the county council as they discuss issues such as E-911 funding, a new animal shelter and the overcrowding at the Porter County Jail. He hopes the people’s vote of confidence will persuade the “no-jays” on the council to stop being so opposed to his proposals.

“I’m hoping we can move Porter County forward,” he said.

Biggs’ defeat rendered him somewhat speechless saying he had no comment looking at the election results.

“I don’t have much to say other than the numbers speak for themselves,” Biggs said.

So far, no Democratic challenger has come forward to oppose Evans in the November general election. The county Democrat and Republican parties have between now and noon on June 30 to fill ballot vacancies.

Heinold vs. Polarek

Meanwhile, Mike Heinold will be the Republican nominee for South District County Commissioner.

His race yielded results similar to the Biggs/Evan race as he beat out opponent and 4th District County Council member Jim Polarek by the same 20 percent margin.

New to politics, Heinold racked up a total of 7,550 votes county wide leaping over Polarek’s total of 5,208 according to the latest election results.

Heinold, a Morgan Township resident like Polarek, fared better in the Duneland precincts with 61.45 percent of the vote compared to a countywide percentage of 59.18 percent. The Duneland vote was 2,423 for Heinold and 1,520 for Polarek. The strongest concentrations of Heinold’s Duneland supporters reside in Westchester and Pine townships with percentages of 62.77 each.

Besides the results, the two candidates also ran on platforms similar to their North District counterparts. Heinhold said he decided to make a run for office to develop long-term jobs with local businesses. He also has indicated his support for Evans’ Jobs Cabinet and his vote to develop the Ind. 49 corridor area south of Chesterton.

Polarek had taken a stance that mirrored a few of the details in the Biggs campaign. He has shown support for the Jobs Cabinet but believes the county should first worry about its costs for E-911 and employee health insurance. He criticized the commissioner board for not having the leadership needed to address monumental costs facing the county.

He will continue to stay on the county council for the remainder of his term which will be up in 2014.

“I wish Mr. Heinold the best. I’m going to continue what’ve I’ve been doing on the council by asking questions on things I think need to be addressed. I’m not going to change my values,” Polarek told the Tribune.

Heinold said his next move would be to focus on the November elections and build up a team on the GOP side.

“We’ve got a great slate of candidates,” he said.

Heinold’s Democratic challenger in November will be Laura Shurr Blaney (see related story).


Posted 5/9/2012