Chesterton Tribune

Commissioner races top draw in campaign finance reports

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Candidates vying for the North and South district seats on the Porter County Board of Commissioners are showing some muscle in their war chests just weeks away from the May 8 primary elections.

On Friday, campaign contributions of $100 or more from January 19 to April 13 were required to be disclosed by candidates in this year’s primary. Candidates submitted their pre-primary campaign finance reports to the county voters registration office.

According to reports turned in, County Commissioner incumbent John Evans who is running for reelection on the Republican ticket for North district chalked up the largest total amount of contributions and receipts with $33,280 collected through April 13. His biggest individual contributors are Charles P. Welter, of Porter ($1,000); and Jacki Stutzman, of Valparaiso ($1,000). Other notable contributors are Portage Mayor James Snyder ($500), former Portage Mayor Doug Olson ($500); Chesterton Town Council member Jeff Trout ($250); State Rep. Ed Soliday ($250); and Valparaiso Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Swihart ($200).

Corporations backing Evans’ include DLZ Indiana ($1,000); and Awin Management Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz. ($1,750).

Evans’ campaign also received large amounts from three political action committees (PACs): Indiana Realtors PAC, of Indianapolis ($2,000); DPBG PAC, of Indianapolis ($1,000); and Northwest Indiana Building and Construction Trade Council PAC, of Munster ($500).

Evans’ opponent and current County Council member Jim Biggs reported a much smaller total of $5,725 in contributions and receipts. Biggs’ top individual contributors included Michael and Rhonda Young, of Portage ($500); Portage Mayor James Snyder ($500); and Janice Wilson, of Portage ($250).

Corporations giving to Biggs include United States Steel Corp., of Pittsburg, Penn. ($500); Rhame & Elwood, of Portage ($400); Semento Inc., of Valparaiso ($250); and Duneland Collision and Repair ($200).

Taking in the largest single donation is Democrat Laura Shurr Blaney’s campaign for the South district County Commissioner seat. Blaney’s aunt Jacki Stutzman donated $20,000 of the total $22,789 raised in the campaign according to the report.

“It truly shocked the heck out of me when I got it,” Blaney told the Chesterton Tribune. “I am very grateful.”

Subsequent donations include $500 for Portage law firm Vouga & Associates, $250 from former County Commissioner Robert Harper, $300 from Valparaiso attorney G. Anthony Bertig, $300 from Iron Workers Local 395 and $100 from Porter County Sheriff David Lain.

Blaney, a current County Council at-large member, faces a challenge on the Democratic ticket from Jerry A. Puckett.

Puckett’s campaign report showed $800 total attributed to Puckett himself.

Back on the GOP side, South County Commissioner candidate Mike Heinold had the third largest war chest in the commissioner races with a total of $10,515. His top individual donors include Larry and Sherry Bucher, of Valparaiso ($2,500); and Willis Conner, of Indianapolis ($1,000). Heinold also received $2,000 from the Indiana Realtors PAC, $795 from Friends of Heinold, and $500 from O’Connor Builders, of Valparaiso.

Heinold’s opponent, current County Council member Jim Polarek, raised less with $4,607 total. His backers include the Porter County Republican South Committee ($2,000); Mark Forszt, of Valparaiso ($1,000); Joe Semento, of Valparaiso ($250); and Citizens for (James) Snyder ($200).

Council Races

Things are quieter for the council at-large races, despite a total of six candidates on the GOP ticket. The largest war chest belongs to Republican Ralph Neff who reported a total of $16,350 in contributions and receipts through April 13. Neff’s donors include Neff himself who loaned $5,000; Mechanical Concepts, of Gary ($2,000); Northern Indiana Sheet Metal Contractors Association, of Hobart ($500); and Chris Campbell, of Valparaiso ($500).

The Citizens to Elect Joe Wszolek committee took in $5,035, which consists of a $2,400 contribution from the Indiana Realtors PAC.

Indiana Realtors PAC was also the top donor to the Committee to Elect Mark Hoffman, which reported a campaign total of $3,950, and the Committee to Elect Ethan Lowe, doling each campaign a share worth $1,600.

Lowe’s committee reported $3,200 in total contributions and receipts including a $1,000 donation from Blachy, Tabor Bozik & Hartman law firm where Lowe works as an attorney.

The Committee to Elect Ralph Iler tallied up $3,220 as its campaign total, with $1,500 from Iler himself.

Edward K. Morales’ committee listed a $2,000 contribution from the Porter County Republican South Committee for its total.

For the four Democrat candidates, current incumbent and Council president Dan Whitten listed a $1,026 to his committee for reelection.

Democrat incumbent Sylvia Graham revealed a $2,000 loan she gave to her reelection bid and an additional $300 from Iron Workers Local 395, of Hammond. Her committee has raised a total of $3,500 so far.

Challengers to Graham and Whitten in the pick-three race, Bob Poparad and Ned Kovachevich reported a total of $0.

Other Races

Outside of the council and commissioner races, Judge William Alexa running for reelection on the Democrat ballot as Superior Court II Judge has his campaign amount totals reaching into the five-figure range despite the fact Alexa is unopposed in the May 8 primary.

The Committee to Reelect William Alexa, Judge holds a total of $17,418 so far. Giving to the campaign with $500 or more are law firms and attorneys starting with Sarkisian & Fleming, of Portage ($2,000); Rhame & Elwood, of Portage ($800); Gary S. Germann, of Portage ($500); G. Anthony Bertig, of Valparaiso ($500); Larry Rogers, of Valparaiso ($500); and Robert Harper, of Valparaiso ($500).

Also running for the Superior Court II Judge, unopposed Republican Anthony Pampalone reported a single $2,000 contribution from Angelo Pampalone.

The Committee to Reelect Jeffrey L. Thode as Judge reported having $1,979 of cash in hand. Thode is running unopposed for Judge of Surperior Court VI on the Republican ballot.

In the contested Republican race for County Surveyor, Richard Hudson outraised his opponent Bill Rensberger. Hudson has taken in $3,733 in contributions and reciepts so far with his top supporters being Edward J. Hutson, of Chesterton, and Mike Whiting, of Medinah, Ill., both giving $500 each.

Rensberger’s campaign report said he has raised $0 in contributions.

Current surveyor incumbent Kevin Breitzke, who faces no challenger in his Democrat primary run, reported $100 in expenditures.

Running unopposed, Democratic County Treasurer Mike Bucko disclosed three contributions as he runs for reelection this year. The contributions come from labor groups Boilermakers Local 374, of Hammond ($500); Pipefitters Local 597, of Chicago ($500); and Plumbers Local 210, of Merrillville ($500).



Posted 4/23/2012