After a ten-year break from county politics, former county commissioner
Republican Jim Biggs will return to public service next year replacing
Democrat Robert Poparad as the Porter County Council’s first district
Biggs took a substantial lead in Tuesday’s election, winning 55.2 percent of
the vote with 6,799 votes tallied in the 32 voting precincts while Poparad
picked up 5,521 (44.8 percent). The first district includes townships
Westchester, Liberty, Pine and Jackson.
It also includes a few precincts in Portage and Center Townships, all of
which went for Biggs.
“I think the voters wanted to see a change,” Biggs said, speculating on
reasons that led to his victory as well as a few other races where
incumbents were defeated.
In the district’s most populous township, Westchester, Biggs nabbed 2,895
votes while Poparad totaled 2,660.
Poparad’s supporting Westchester precincts included precincts 1, 4, 5, 10,
11, 12, 13, and 17. Biggs’ biggest victory came from Westchester 14 with 330
votes compared to Poparad’s 189. Westchester 14 had similar results in the
county commissioner race between Democrat Robert Harper and Republican Nancy
Adams. Adams picked up 343 votes there and Harper took in 184.
The vote in Pine Twp.’s two voting precinct totals came close with 435 votes
going to Poparad and 436 for Biggs.
The other townships were no contest. Biggs scored 1,435 votes over Poparad’s
950 in the five Liberty Twp. precincts. Poparad trailed in Jackson Twp. with
720 votes, lagging behind Biggs’ 1,099.
Biggs, who gave up a third term for county commissioner in 2000 to further
his education and career, focused his campaign on improving the lines of
communication between county officials and departments. He also encourages
the council to expand their ideas on using county funds, particularly the $9
million collected in interest money from the sale of Porter Hospital.
Biggs told the Tribune he will probably not jump immediately into
discussions about the hospital money when he joins the council, but instead
is eager to foster unity amongst his peers and county officials in order to
develop a plan for accomplishments.
Describing his experience campaigning over the past year, Biggs compared the
race to a long-running football game.
“You line up your x’s and o’s, you develop a plan, you come through with
very hard work, and by the end you’re exhausted,” he said.
Biggs called Poparad a “formidable opponent” and believes Poparad will find
success in future endeavors.
“Bob is a survivor,” he said.
Poparad has served a total of two terms on the council and recently acted as
president in 2009. His campaign consisted of keeping county government
spending down, noting that Porter County is among the 15th lowest in Indiana
for per-capita spending.
Poparad’s comment to the Tribune this morning was to congratulate
Biggs on his victory and wished him well.
“(Biggs) has a lot of work cut out for him,” Poparad said.
In addition to being a county official, Poparad previously served on the
Burns Harbor Town Council. He is also the president of Pinkerton Oil in
Biggs said he felt hard work paid off for him, but would be lying if he
didn’t credit his victory partly to Republican upswing witnessed throughout
the 2010 election results.
In another contested county council race, Republican James Polarek defeated
Democrat Marylyn Johns for the fourth district seat taking nearly 62 percent
of the vote -- 7,137 for Polarek and 4,421 for Johns. Johns joined the
council this January by Democratic caucus vote, filling in for previous
fourth district seat holder Michael Bucko, who left the council to take
office as county treasurer.
The council will also see a new face in January on the second district seat.
Democrat Jeremy Rivas, who defeated incumbent Rita Stevenson in this May’s
primary election, running unopposed took 5,489 votes from 31 of Portage
Also unopposed in her race, Karen Conover, R-3rd, pulled in 8,076 votes from
32 precincts in Center Twp.
With the wins by Biggs and Polarek, the council will now find itself more
balanced with three Republicans on board and four Democrats.