A new bi-partisan administration was ushered in by voters Tuesday for the
Town of Porter with Democrats wresting three Town Council seats from
In the night’s most lopsided council contests, incumbent president Trevin
Fowler, appointed last year by a GOP caucus to represent Ward 4, lost to
Democrat Elka Nelson 533 to 228. Ward 5 incumbent Republican Michele
Bollinger, who was seeking a second term, was defeated by Democrat Greg
Stinson 537 to 230. He was the night’s top vote-getter.
In a closer Town Council contest in Ward 1, Democrat William Cantrell
captured 56.02 percent of the 748 ballots cast in his race with Republican
challenger Kenneth Timm. Cantrell lost his bid for a council seat in 2007.
Incumbent Ward 1 Republican Councilman Todd Martin lost to Timm in the
Three unopposed Porter candidates coasted to victory. Clerk-treasurer Carol
Pomeroy, a Republican, netted 506 votes and will begin her third term.
Ward 2 Republican Jeanine Virtue received 431votes and will replace GOP
Councilman Jon Granat, who did not seek re-election. Neither did Republican
Dave Babcock in Ward 3 where GOP candidate Rob Pomeroy will replace him; 429
voters cast their ballots for Pomeroy, who is Carol Pomeroy’s nephew by
The winning candidates ran as an unofficial slate sharing goals of more
openness in town government as well as more transparency as to how and why
decisions are made.
Fowler and Bollinger, who ususally voted in a block with Martin, carried
baggage into the election over past decisions that proved to be unpopular:
replacing Babcock with Fowler as 2011 council president, attempting to take
jurisdiction over Porter Park Department employees, and naming Martin to the
town zoning board in violation of state law.
Although not a council decision, controversial in the campaign was the 2009
Porter Redevelopment Commission’s $350,000 purchase of 32 acres for
redevelopment known as the Brickyard, a former brickmaking operation on Beam
Street that’s left a legacy of environmental contamination, the extent of
which is yet to be determined.
Cantrell said the voters sent a message Tuesday “they want openness and
communication with the public instead of a private agenda behind closed
doors.” He said he hopes to implement a question-and-answer session at the
conclusion of council meetings so the public feels more a part of what’s
going on to restore trust.
Referring to Timm, “My opponent was a very good man but we had very
different ideas,” said Cantrell. He also invited residents to step forward
to apply for upcoming appointments to Porter boards and commissions.
Virtue, who recently returned from competing in the New York City marathon,
said even though she was unopposed in the election, “I don’t know that I did
any less work. Even if you get in you want to get good people in with you. I
think we can do a lot of good this term if we get the right people.”
A short time later all four Porter precincts were posted on the vote tally
at the Porter County administration center in Valparaiso and the winning
Porter candidates broke into cheers.
Virtue said her campaigning showed “a lot of people want a say in their
government. They want Porter back.” Among her priorities after taking office
Jan. 1 will be to get a clear idea what the town can and should do with the
Rob Pomeroy thanked voters for choosing a new council that will make
Porter’s future better and respect their wishes. He said he hopes to see
more residents attend town meetings.
One of the first things the new council needs to do is get better
information about the Brickyard property, agreed Pomeroy. When it comes to
Porter’s planned Gateway tourism/economic development project, he pledged
not to act in haste, getting the facts first and asking what truly benefits
At 8:26 p.m. Fowler texted Nelson, “Congratulations. Good luck.” She said
the voters’ message Tuesday made it clear they’d like a hand in what’s going
on in town and want to be treated with respect.
Nelson recommended hiring an environmental consultant for advice what to do
about the Brickyard. Regarding the ambitious Gateway plan for Indiana 49 at
U.S. 20, for which the current council secured a $19 million regional grant,
Nelson said additional studies are needed and she doubts the grant would be
threatened if a change in plans shows it’s as good or better feasibility and
As for her campaign, “I made a lot of new friends I would have never known
but for this experience,” added Nelson.
The Town Council wins for both Nelson and Stinson mean they will have to
give up their current seats on the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals. When
Stinson’s victory was confirmed, he posted the good news to family in
Pennsylvania via Facebook.
He said of Porter town government, “It’s too early to say specifically but I
think changes are inevitable in certain ways. After January we can examine
consultants, contracts, whether the people we have are being used properly
and the departments aligned the right way to be efficient and effective.”
Stinson proposes moving quickly to conduct department reviews and develop a
strategic town plan with various benchmarks to meet the demand for
increasing services with dwindling revenues. “It would be an action plan,
not an academic plan you don’t do anything with.”
Overall, the new Ward 5 councilman said he’s humbled by the support that was
shown him Tuesday, and that he will live up to the voters’ trust in him.
Carol Pomeroy, the only holdover in town government, said she looks forward
to working with the new council. “I really hope the politics won’t enter
into it and everybody will do what’s best for the town."