Chesterton Tribune



Jim Biggs fends off Kyle Yelton challenge by 11 votes

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To say it was close would be putting it mildly.

County Council member Jim Biggs prevailed in Tuesday’s Republican primary elections by just 11 votes over challenger Kyle Yelton, according to unofficial results.

The final outcome was 1,074 votes for Biggs and 1,063 votes for Yelton, making the race for County Council District 1 the tightest in this year’s primary.

As results gradually came in from the 34 precincts in District 1, Biggs and Yelton kept edging over one another until the photo finish at the end.

Yelton held up best in Jackson Twp., where he is originally from, capturing 61 percent of the vote. He also did better in the two Center Twp. precincts in District 1 taking 64.9 percent.

Biggs took the lead in all other townships, his best being Westchester Twp. where he resides, with 55.88 percent of the vote.

In Pine Twp. he took 54 percent of the vote and 52.11 percent in the combined total of the Liberty Twp. precincts.

When asked if he would be seeking a recount, Yelton told the Chesterton Tribune this morning he hadn’t thought about it but may pursue it if there is reason to believe the votes totals may have been different. Yelton said he did however concede to Biggs after the results.

Yelton said he is sad he didn’t win but is grateful for all the supportive comments made to him during his campaign.

“Success is in the process and not in the results. I got to meet a lot of people who told me they supported me and why I was running. I think I did pretty well for a 26 year-old candidate. I’ve never been more humbled in all my life,” said Yelton.

He thanked Biggs for keeping it an “above the board” race and focusing on what’s best for Porter County rather than making personal attacks. “There’s no bad blood here. I got to know (Biggs) and found out he is a great guy.”

Both Yelton and Biggs ended up working the polls on Primary Election Day at the Jackson Twp. polling place. Biggs said he was impressed by Yelton’s leadership skills and hopes he inspires more young people to get involved.

“He comes from two wonderful parents. He has a lot of qualities I’d like to see in my own son,” Biggs said, encouraging Yelton to keep pursuing involvement in Porter County government.

Yelton said he is “decompressing” from this spring’s election and that he is interested in a future with public service but doesn’t have any concrete plans on what office he might pursue next.

As for the down-to-the-wire results, Biggs said “nobody should be surprised” considering how hard he and Yelton campaigned and that anything can happen in a race with such a low turnout.

“Everybody’s vote does count. It really, truly does,” said Biggs, adding that he thought Tuesday’s dismal turnout was “anemic.”

Getting back to work, Biggs said he wants to start right away talking with all local municipalities about sharing the costs of operating the County’s E-911 dispatch center and work with Council members to straighten out county finances.

Biggs said he felt it bittersweet that his fellow Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, will not be back for a second term, but he looks forward to working with whoever takes his place. “I’ve never worked alongside someone as principled as (Polarek).”

No Democrat has filed against Biggs yet for the November general election, but party chairs have until July 3 to fill ballot vacancies.

Council races outside Duneland

While Biggs avoided being ousted, Polarek lost his seat to a challenger in a three-way race.

Michael Jessen beat out Polarek, picking up 1,059 votes versus 905 votes. Coming in last was another challenger, Union Twp. trustee Anthony Pampalone with 364 votes.

Jessen is vice-president of Aldi Inc., located at the northwest corner of Division Rd. and Ind. 49. He will face Democrat Don Ensign in the general election.

In District 3, Republican Karen Conover won her contested race over opponent Russell “Chet” Barone with 1,152 votes versus 993, a comfortable margin of about 54/46 percent. She is currently unopposed for November.

County Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, faced no challenger in his primary race and so far no Republican nomination has been made.



Posted 5/7/2014




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