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).
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
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.
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
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
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