Chesterton Tribune

Election board approves Duneland Schools tax vote on primary ballot

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Porter County election officials on Wednesday cleared the way for a property tax increase referendum to be placed on primary election ballots for those living in the Duneland School District.

The election board, consisting of Republican Patrick Lyp, Democrat J.J. Stankiewicz and County Clerk Karen Martin, all said yes to the measure when Martin reported the referendum had followed the required route to get on the May 8 ballot. It first had to be approved by the Department of Local Government Finance.

The Duneland School Board unanimously voted to hold a referendum at its meeting on Feb. 13 as a way to collect additional funding for the schools or face deep cuts to programs and faculty. Voters in the Duneland School District will have a choice of favoring a 22 cent property tax rate increase on every $100 of assessed valuation for the next seven years.

Representatives in the Voter Registration Office Republican Sundae Schoon and Democrat Kathy Kozuszek said early voting begins on Monday, April 9. That is also the day by which voters must be registered in order to take part in the May primary.

As approved by the board earlier in February, early voting will take place this year at the Chesterton Town Hall (790 Broadway) from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. The county’s two other early voting locations are the Voter Registration office at 155 Indiana Avenue, Room 105, Valparaiso and the North County Government Complex on 3560 Willowcreek Rd. in Portage.

More details of early voting can be found under the Voter Registration tab on the county’s website,

Political Action Committee

For Referendum

Schoon said the office has received a packet of information from Steve Klink, the consultant who was hired by Duneland Schools to assist with the school’s budget, to form the “Friends of Duneland Schools” political action committee.

While the committee is in the process of submitting its application for establishment, it has also requested to obtain a “walk list” from the office which names eligible voters in Duneland and their addresses.

Schoon said the proposed committee plans to file a petition to appoint poll book holders who can check to see who has voted on Election Day. The state election code allows county election boards to appoint poll book holders if the political action committee obtains petition signatures totaling at least 2 percent of the number of votes cast in the last election for secretary of state.

Based on the 2010 election figures, Schoon said the group would need to collect approximately 210 signatures in order to secure the petition.

Schoon said political parties and committees often use poll book holders to keep track of eligible voters who show up to the polls during the day. By seeing who hasn’t voted, the committee can call to encourage voters to go to the polls or ask if they are in need of transportation.

The committees are not allowed to view ballots to see how a person voted, Schoon said.

Challenge Upheld Against

Center Twp. Precinct Committeeperson Candidate

In another action, the board split in a challenge filed by Valparaiso City Councilman Jan Dick who questioned Robert McCasland’s party affiliation since he ran against Republican Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas as an independent candidate.

McCasland filed to run for Republican precinct committeeperson for Center Township Precinct 25.

Dick, who lives in the Center 25 precinct, said McCasland has openly supported Democratic candidates in the past and brought with him a letter from Porter County GOP Chairperson Joyce Webster who deemed McCasland to be “not a member in good standing with the Republican Party.”

Dick presented printouts of McCasland’s website where he criticized Costas’ actions as mayor and a copy of his resignation as a Republican precinct committeeperson he filed before running for mayor.

McCasland told the board he did run as an independent and just because he had disagreements with a Republican leader should not mean he must give up his party affiliation.

“I didn’t realize that one person was god of the party,” he said.

McCasland said he has voted Republican in the 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 primary elections and said he would take down his website when he returns to his office.

Election board attorney Clay Patton said that in order for someone to run for a precinct committeeperson, one must reside in that precinct and meet the rules that are established by the state party which includes consent from the county chair that the party member is in good standing. But Patton said just because a candidate disagrees with another party member should not necessarily mean that person is not in good standing.

Stankiewicz said Webster should have been in attendance at the meeting to answer questions and believed the challenge to be based on hearsay. Ultimately, it should be left up to the voters to decide who their precinct committeeperson should be, Stankiewicz said. Also running for the Center 25 spot is Republican Dan Steiner.

Ruling in favor of the challenge were Lyp and Martin due to Webster’s letter indicating McCasland does not have good standing in the party. Stankiewicz voted against it.

McCasland later told the press he didn’t believe Lyp should have voted since his firm represents the City of Valparaiso.

Poll Worker Classes Start in April

Kozuszek said poll worker classes begin the first week of April. Anyone interested in being a poll inspector or judge is encouraged to call Voter Registration at 465-3484 or 465-3486. Sixteen year-olds and 17 year-olds are allowed to be poll workers as long as they have permission from their schools.

The pay range for the day is between $110 and $135 plus a meal allowance. All poll workers must attend a training class.





Posted 3/1/2012