Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Election will determine new south county commissioner

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County voters in Tuesday’s election will elect a new South District County Commissioner.

On the ballot are Democrat Laura Shurr Blaney and Republican Mike Heinold. Commissioner races are voted upon by all county voters regardless of what district they reside in.

Heinold, of Morgan Twp., is a director of sales for the FranklinCovey company and also is managing partner of Iddea Group, an IT solution company. This is his first attempt at public office although he has had experience campaigning for his dad Vic Heinold when he held office as a state senator.

Blaney, a Porter Twp. resident, is currently an at-large member of the Porter County Council and has been for the past six years. Her other role includes co-managing a small business called One Guy with Tools with her husband Ken. She said if elected she will be a full-time commissioner.

Heinold’s goals include serving every citizen and finding creative ways to manage customer service efficiently along with building quality resources in all communities so business will be attracted and bring jobs. It is his goal over the next four years to lower the County’s unemployment rate to lower than 5 percent, the level it was before the start of the economic recession in 2008. Heinold said the County must also have fiduciary responsibility and use taxpayer dollars efficiently while delivering services. He plans to work with different officials and synergize their ideas or as he quotes businessman Stephen R. Covey, “two heads are better than one.”

Blaney puts emphasis on job creation. She cites her support of the Ind. 49 Corridor Project as an example and would favor partnering with cities and towns on similar projects that could bring jobs with good wages. Improving the quality of life is Blaney’s next top goal. Her ideas include introducing wellness programs and supporting the arts. She would also be committed to public safety and cost-effectiveness such as continuing negotiations with Lakeshore PAWS on building a new animal shelter using donations instead of taxpayer money.

Along with agreeing about the need for more jobs in Porter County, both candidates said they can work well with others and reach across party lines. They said they understand the challenges facing the county such as funding staff at the Porter County Jail, E-911 operations and using more “outside of the box” ways to keep the county solvent.

Blaney said she would favor a plan to use the hospital interest funds that could go to capital projects as long as they do not produce any reoccurring cost. The principal should remain untouched to accrue additional interest, she said.

Heinold shares the opinion that the $163 million hospital sale principal is a great “safety net” for the County and should be seen as an endowment to create new economic projects. He said he would not be opposed to tapping into the principal if all County Commissioners and County Council members can agree on a use for the money.

Blaney said her experience as a County Council member has given her in depth knowledge of county government and she feels she could continue making a difference as a policymaker.

Heinold said his 25 years in business and managing personnel and budgets give him the skills to competently serve as Commissioner. He added that his background in technology will be an asset to the County as it inches toward an E-Gov web-based platform.

The winner of this general election will succeed outgoing Democrat Commissioner Carole Knoblock who decided not to seek reelection.

 

Posted 11/5/2012