Chesterton Tribune


Democrats sweep County Council atlarge races

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The Porter County Council won’t welcome any new faces in 2013 but it will be welcoming back a familiar one.

After a two-year respite, having lost in the 2010 election’s Republican sweep, Democrat Robert Poparad will take an at-large seat on the Council this January. Poparad earned the seat as one of the prevailing candidates in Tuesday’s General Election.

Voters were tasked with choosing three from among three Democrat candidates and three Republican candidates. A stronger Democrat turnout this year resulted in the reelection of incumbents Sylvia Graham and Dan Whitten who is the Council’s current president.

“The taxpayers of this county have given us four more years and we will work hard for them,” said Whitten.

He, Poparad and Graham beat out all three Republican challengers -- Mark Hoffman who recently retired as Valparaiso High School’s athletic director, Mechanical Concepts owner Ralph Neff, and real estate appraiser and Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals president Joe Wszolek.

Whitten believes voters were affected by the negative mailers paid for by the Porter County GOP insinuating County Democrats were to blame for late property tax bills. The voters’ show of support for the Dems should “mandate” against the use of attack ads, Whitten said.

Graham said what gave her party the edge was the hard work they all put in campaigning vigorously in a tough race.

“I’m very indebted to the people of Porter County that they would put their trust in me for another (term),” Graham said. She added that in light of the recent disputes among the Council over budget matters, constituents can rest assured that cooperation will transpire and accomplishments will be made.

“Life will go on,” she said.

Poparad also thanked the voters for their vote and vowed he will strive “to make the county a better place to live and work.” He previously served on the Council as its 1st District Representative for two terms.

Whitten will have a third term while this will be the second for Graham.

Election Results

Graham came out as the top vote getter countywide according to unofficial election results from the County Voters Registration with all of the county’s 123 precincts reporting. She claimed 19.08 percent of the 192,253 total votes, while Whitten won 18.93 percent, Poparad got 17.00 percent, Hoffman received 15.79 percent, Wszolek 14.67 percent and Neff 14.53 percent.

But in Duneland’s four townships Westchester, Liberty, Pine and Jackson, Graham trailed Poparad’s total by four votes – 8,693 to 8,697 – according to Tuesday’s unofficial results. Poparad, a Burns Harbor resident, was the only Council at-large candidate running from Duneland and took 18.59 percent of the local vote. Graham took 18.58 percent of the Duneland vote followed by Whitten with 18.37 percent.

Republican numbers were down throughout Duneland compared with the rest of the county. Hoffman snagged 15.58 percent of the vote, Wszolek took 14.44 percent and Neff gathered 14.42 percent.

Hoffman was the top vote getter in Jackson Twp. with 17.43 percent, followed by Whitten with 17.09. Graham was the most popular candidate in Pine and Liberty townships while Poparad had the highest total in Westchester Twp., 19.72 percent of the total votes.

Official election results are to be certified by the Election Board on Nov. 16 ten days after the election.



Posted 11/7/2011