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.
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.
herself to “fiscal responsibility for future generations” and added that
“the circuit breaker makes our job more difficult, so we have to be more
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.”
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.
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
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.”
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
“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
“I love the heart
of Chesterton,” she added. “It’s a very special place.”
4th District, Open
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.’”
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.”
4th District, Open
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.”
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.