By MARGARET L. WILLIS
While some recent Porter County Commissioner and County Council appointments
were a surprise, one in particular was more than that: It was a
In naming county Democrat party chairman Leon West to the Northern Indiana
Transportation District Board (NICTD) the two Democrat County Commissioners,
Bob Harper and Carole Knoblock, have shirked their responsibility as elected
officials, neither stepping forward to serve on the NICTD board themselves
nor allowing fellow Commissioner John Evans to retain his seat on the board.
The bipartisan NICTD board, with representatives from all the counties
served by the South Shore commuter train, oversees a multi-million dollar
entity which serves commuters in the four county area from the state line to
The South Shore commuter line is essential to our local and regional economy
and to the daily lives of thousands of riders and their families.
Politicizing the board of NICTD threatens the ongoing stability of that
The two Democrat County Commissioners have trashed a long-standing tradition
of bi-partisanship, and ended a policy of Porter County elected officials
serving on major regional boards.
Commuters, and the taxpayers who pay at least a portion of the railroad’s
bill, should be represented by elected officials, not party operatives who
do not have to answer to the voters or the taxpayers.
West is not an elected official and has repeatedly shown himself to be
partisan in the worst sense of the word favoring party-based hiring over
Until now the Commissioner representatives on the NICTD board for Porter
County have been Commissioners themselves -- elected officials who hold a
direct mandate from the citizens. This Porter County tradition goes back to
when the NICTD board was first formed to save the South Shore from being
It is time for the Indiana General Assembly to step in and preserve good
government at NICTD. State lawmakers should draft and pass legislation
making it mandatory that County Commissioner appointments to the NICTD board
be elected officials.
Editor’s Note: Margaret Willis is a former Democrat member of the NICTD
board on which she served while a member of the Porter County Council.