Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Jim Biggs wins County Council seat

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

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 representative.

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 Porter.

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 Twp.’s precincts.

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.

 

 

Posted 11/3/2010

 

 

 

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