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
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.
More details of early voting can be found under the Voter Registration tab
on the county’s website, www.porterco.org.
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
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
The pay range for the day is between $110 and $135 plus a meal allowance.
All poll workers must attend a training class.