Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Democrat Laura Shurr Blaney takes open Commissioner seat

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Laura Shurr Blaney took over for Carole Knoblock on the County Council nearly eight years ago when Knoblock was elected to the Porter County Board of Commissioners.

Now Blaney will succeed Knoblock a second time taking the reins as South County Commissioner. Blaney, a Democrat, easily won her race Tuesday over Republican opponent Mike Heinold of Morgan Twp. garnering 58.94 percent of the vote countywide.

According to unofficial figures from the County Voters Registration Office with all of the county’s 123 precincts reporting, Blaney received 40,601 votes countywide to Heinold’s 28,280 votes.

The race was a little tighter in Duneland – Liberty, Jackson, Pine and Westchester townships – where Blaney took 9,491 votes compared to Heinold’s 7,108, a percentage ratio of 57.2 to 42.8.

Considering Duneland, Blaney performed strongest in Westchester Twp. and weakest in Jackson Twp. where a few more Republican straight ticket votes were cast but Blaney still captured the majority there by about 6 percent. Heinold claimed just two Duneland precincts – Jackson 1 and Westchester 14.

Blaney, a Porter Twp. resident, said she will be the County’s only full-time Commissioner. She has served a total of six years on the County Council.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to do things for the good of the county,” she said.

Blaney told the Tribune after her win Tuesday that one of her first undertakings will be to make progress with Lakeshore PAWS on building a new animal shelter facility for the county.

As an outgoing County Council member, she will also make the effort to “bridge the gap” and improve communication between the Council and the board of commissioners. Members on both boards have had arguments recently over the 2013 County Budgets involving the use of income tax money and proposed raises. “People just want to see us work together,” Blaney said.

Blaney and her husband are the former owners of Kelsey Steak House in Portage and Valparaiso and currently run One Guy with Tools.

Heinold ran his campaign on the hopes of bringing more infrastructure and jobs to the County. Another goal of his was to synergize the ideas of each county official.

After his defeat, Heinold expressed his gratitude to all his supporters and his congratulations to Blaney and all the other winning candidates.

“I support them and encourage them all in the common goal of moving Porter County forward,” Heinold told the Tribune. A newcomer to politics, Heinold said as of now he has no inclination to run again for public office.

Blaney was the only one of three County Council members to succeed in securing a Commissioner seat in the 2012 elections. Fellow Council members Jim Biggs, R-1st, and Jim Polarek, R-4th, made attempts to change office but were defeated in May’s primary elections.

Meanwhile, Porter County voters were also asked to elect a candidate for North County Commissioner. Republican incumbent John Evans ran unopposed and took 100 percent of the vote with a countywide total of 43,682 according to Tuesday’s unofficial results. He will begin his fourth term in January.

Blaney is the lone Democrat on the GOP-dominated Board of Commissioners. Republican Nancy Adams holds the Commissioner seat for the Center district. Her term is up in 2014.

 

Posted 11/7/2011