Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Municipal election candidates speak at Chamber forum

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Duneland Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum on Wednesday at Sand Creek Country club in advance of the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Each candidate was allotted four minutes to make his or her best case.

Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer,

Incumbent Kuziela

Incumbent Republican Stephanie Kuziela, elected by caucus in 2014 to finish Gayle Polakowski’s term, then elected in her own right to the position in 2015, began by discussing her responsibilities: municipal insurance, payroll for 100 employees, receipts and disbursements, records and archives, retirement plans and benefits, and budgeting. “There’s a lot that we do, but I love it all,” Kuziela said. “All of this makes me feel honored to be part not only of our residents’ lives but of our employees’ lives.”

Kuziela cited as her accomplishments in office the continued streamlining of “antiquated processes”; the “creative raises” for all municipal employees--with graduated raises for police officers and firefighters--in 2018; and a 2-percent raise for employees to take effect in 2020.

Kuziela pledged herself to “fiscal responsibility for future generations” and added that “the circuit breaker makes our job more difficult, so we have to be more creative.”

Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer,

Challenger Udvare

Democrat challenger Courtney Udvare is a life-long Chesterton resident with a degree in business and accounting and since 2011 has been director of the Westville Public Library. When she accepted that position, Udvare said, the library “was not meeting state standards,” but under her direction it began the digitization of the collection and its finances, created new programming including an inter-library loan program, and has now “been exceeding state standards for the last several years.”

Udvare said that she is skilled in budgeting, payroll, the audit process, the supervision of employees, and that she regularly reports to a board.

“If elected, I intend to organize the office to minimize details and errors being missed,” Udvare said. “The budget is tight without lost funding and financial mistakes. I will improve organization and professionalism by implementing strong financial controls.” She added that the State Board of Accounts has previously dinged the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office “for not enough controls.”

Chesterton Town Council,

Incumbent DeLaney

Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, opened by citing his experience in the service of the town, on the Town Council, the Advisory Plan Commission, the Redevelopment Commission, and earlier the Board of Zoning Appeals. “We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said, which is why in a recent survey the Town of Chesterton was named the No. 1 place in Indiana to raise a family.

Among his achievements while serving on the Town Council, DeLaney pointed to the Ind. 49 infrastructure corridor, built south of the Indiana Toll Road to serve as the backbone of future commercial development; and the $200 million investment of Urschel Laboratories Inc. in building a new plant and world headquarters at Coffee Creek Center.

“I’ve been a champion of the town,” DeLaney said. “I’m a champion of the businesses in the Downtown. The texts and e-mails I get from residents, I help them.” DeLaney added that the Chesterton Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed him, and that the Town Council worked hard and creatively to grant raises to municipal employees in 2018 and then another 2-percent raise to take effect in 2020.

Chesterton Town Council,

Challenger Fisher

Democrat Jennifer Fisher is a practicing attorney working in civil defense litigation who said that she also has experience in real estate, liability, contracts, and business setups. “I’ve studied state and federal law and I have the skill set that will allow me to serve Chesterton in a number of capacities.”

Fisher pointed specifically to several issues which she finds troubling: the budget error in the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office, “prime real estate sitting vacant for a long time,” and the federal lawsuit filed by International Association of Firefighters Local 4600 against the town alleging various improprieties by the town.

“I think we can do better than this,” Fisher said. “I think we should do better than this. I want to resolve the disputes, bring the best out of everyone, and restore the morale.”

“I love the heart of Chesterton,” she added. “It’s a very special place.”

Porter Town Council,

4th District, Open Seat, Burge

Republican Jim Burge previously served on the Porter County Council in an at-large seat (2003-07) and on the County Plan Commission.

“I can work with people of different backgrounds and different points of view,” Burge said. “It’s not red and blue, it’s a shade of purple, and I’ve knocked on 1,300 door while campaigning. People don’t care if you’re R or D. Its’ just ‘Let’s get things done.’”

Burge specifically pointed to what he called “the hodgepodge of infrastructure” in Porter, “sidewalks that suddenly end, curbs that suddenly end.”

“There’s no reason to invent the wheel,” Burge said. “We just need to use best practices.”

Porter Town Council,

4th District, Open Seat, Phillips

Democrat David Phillips said that he was in retail management for some 20 years with Strack & Van Til. “I have a lot of experience dealing with people and their requests, to listen to complaints and requests. You have to learn what things you can do to help people and what you can’t.”

“I also learned a lot about loyalty” while working for Strack & Van Til when it was a family-owned business, Phillips added.

Phillips moved to Porter in 2005 and “I really fell in love with the area, its natural beauty,” he said. “As a Town Council member, I’d do everything I can to safeguard these assets for our kids and grandkids.”

Phillips also cited a need to improve streets and infrastructure and promised “to do things that bring people together.”

Also Speaking

Candidates in uncontested races who also spoke on Wednesday: Bob Allison, Democrat, 3rd District, Chesterton Town Council; and incumbent William Lopez, Democrat, 3rd District, Porter Town Council.

Two candidates for the Beverly Shores Town Council spoke as well: incumbent Geof Benson; and challenger Dr. Carol Westbrook.

 

 

Posted 10/24/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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