Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Republicans have a choice in Commissioner race

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In the primary election Tuesday, June 2, Republicans will choose either Harvey Nix or Fred Martin to face off with Incumbent Democrat South District Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney in the November general election. All Porter County Republicans are eligible to vote in the race. Candidates must reside in South County but serve all county residents.

The Chesterton Tribune invited both Nix and Martin to participate in a candidate questionnaire. The Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for length.

1) Age, place of residence, occupation.

Martin: I am 55 years old and a lifelong resident of Kouts. I am a real estate broker for Century 21 Affiliated in Valparaiso.

Nix: I am 71 years old, retired from Porter County Government. Lived in Kouts for 50 years.

2) Why are you seeking election to the County Board of Commissioners? (75 words)

Martin: I don’t like complacency in government. I believe I bring different experiences and points of view to the table that would benefit the citizens of Porter County. I want to simplify some processes such as obtaining building permits and increasing and encouraging more participation in government.

Nix: I have experience working with Porter County Soil & Water Conservation Service as an engineering technician. While there I met and served a large number of people. Of that there were 432 farmers who I met with to discuss needs and problems they had on their farms. Also offered programs to them through federal government.

3) What specific skill sets would you bring to the Board if elected? (100 words)

Martin: As a former paramedic supervisor, EMS instructor, and deputy director of Porter County EMA, I understand the needs and importance of effective emergency responders. As a businessperson, I understand the importance of good communication and follow-up. As a trained incident manager and having taken management classes, I understand first-hand the need to be organized and prepared. Through my training and experience, I have the ability to plan and make decisions under stressful and unique situations. I feel this would be a benefit as a county commissioner.

Nix: For 35 years I worked for IDEM under Rule 5, which is the disturbance of more than one acre. I reviewed projects from Portage, Valparaiso, and Chesterton. I also reviewed County plans on erosion control that were submitted to my office. I had a position on the County drainage Board for six years where we reviewed drainage regulations. Then, I was on a committee to establish the new Storm Water Board to replace the Drainage Board. During my time as a technician, I was educated on soil types to work with the Health Department to evaluate septic systems.

4) As a citizen seeking election to the Board, what are two things you think the Board of Commissioners has done a good job of the past four years? Explain. (125 words)

Martin: Working with the county healthcare insurance provider to dramatically reduce the cost of healthcare insurance. This was a large savings and a big win for county taxpayers. Remodeling the Expo Center was another good accomplishment. Modernizing and improving the look of the building is a good reflection on the County as a whole and makes it more attractive to potential users.

Nix: The first is the renovation of the front of the Administration Building in which the steps were deteriorating that could cause liability to the County. In the present condition now, it is handicap accessible and more appealing to the eye. The next one was construction of the Animal Shelter, making the facility more appealing to workers and public. When I visited the former building 20 years ago with then-commissioner Brian Gesse, the building was deteriorating and I agreed with him that we needed a new facility.

5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why in particular you believe yourself to be the better candidate. (100 words)

Martin: My wide range of experience and involvement in the community. I have served on the board of directors for the Porter County Red Cross and the Kouts Chamber of Commerce. I have served as president of the Kouts Economic Development Commission. I presently serve on the Porter County Stormwater Advisory Board. As a realtor, I understand the issues of small business. My experience in emergency services has taught me the challenges that face government agencies.

Nix: I believe that the years I worked for County as a technician, I learned how the different departments function. For the committees I served on, I am very familiar with the responsibilities. I am a person who likes to meet one-on-one with individuals with questions or concerns.

6) What are the key issues in this race? (125 words)

Martin: Accomplishing job growth and retention by encouraging the continual development of a skilled and educated labor pool. Finding a way to provide healthcare insurance to small businesses is an issue that needs to be addressed. Creating priorities for maintaining and improving our current infrastructure and drainage. Reviewing how EMS (ambulance) is provided in this County. The updating of the County comprehensive development plan. Communication with local, state, and federal officials to increase the overall quality of life in Porter County. Improving processes between County departments to increase efficiency and decrease duplication of services.

Nix: Storm Water Board requirements need to be reviewed. At the present, the regulations are not favorable to agricultural land development dealing with 10 acre parcel. The continued upkeep of facilities the County owns. The review and use of Porter County Charitable Foundation funds. The offices that you represent as commissioner should know the personnel and basic needs the office may have. In regards to the public, the commission should have personal contact and listen to residents’ concerns. Not only by publishing an article in paper or online response.

7) What are your priorities for use of the funds in the Porter County Non-profit Charitable Foundation? (75 words)

Martin: My priorities are charities that have low overhead and administration costs that help the homeless, veterans and children. Providing safe shelter and food for those that do not have this will aid in providing them with the basic building blocks needed to help them become self-sufficient again. Also, providing medical and mental health care and medications for the uninsured.

Nix: The continued use of funds as they are being used now. The taxpayers in south part of county mentioned that they would like an urgent care facility closer to them. It is 23 miles to Porter Hospital from south end.

8) Though Commissioners represent the districts in which they live, they are elected by a county-wide vote and make decisions that affect all County residents. As a resident of the South district, describe your interest in issues that primarily affect residents of the Center and North districts. (150 words)

Martin: Most recently the damage to the Lakeshore. I would work with the communities involved to aid in getting state and federal assistance to make the necessary repairs and restoration. I would also offer whatever assistance the County could provide. I would also aid in making sure all the areas of the County are adequately covered with EMS service with the least amount of delay. Drainage improvement and flooding mitigation affects the other districts too. Working with tourism officials to increase the number of people who visit our County.

Nix: Property taxes, assessment to landowners, drainage problems, continued maintenance of county roads.

9) In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, local government meetings, like many services, have suddenly gone virtual. This presents both an opportunity for local government to reach more of its citizens with the convenience of live-streaming and the potential for elected officials to suppress public input on and press coverage of local government actions. Explain what government transparency means to you and how you plan to ensure continued or improved transparency in our current time of uncertainty. (150 words)

Martin: I think streaming all County meetings will increase transparency and get more people involved in government. I also believe citizens should be able to watch rebroadcasts of meetings. We need to develop a way to allow public input during live broadcasts of meetings. Citizens should be able to submit questions or comments electronically when the agenda is published. Transparency is an absolute must. Transparency equals trust in my opinion. I would also like to see the meetings put into a podcast format so people can listen to them while doing other things. It’s a matter of adjusting to new technology and a new way of doing things. I look at this as progress and increased accessibility to government. I would like to see Porter County be a leader in this area and not a follower.

Nix: Goal should be to serve public. With all the offices closed, it was hard to get answers.

10) Explain to what extent you believe that a candidate’s behavior in his or her personal life is a reflection of the quality of work he or she will do as an elected official. Would trouble in a candidate’s personal life affect your level of trust in that candidate, for example? Why or why not? (150 words)

Martin: I believe poor behavior in one’s personal life causes distractions in their professional life. No one is perfect and not everyone will agree with other people’s choices in life. There are certain behaviors that are simply not acceptable. I would not trust someone with taxpayer money who embezzled funds from a person or company. If a person is disrespectful to others, I would not trust that person to respect the citizens they serve. A person who chooses to become a leader must accept the scrutiny and the responsibilities that come with the job. If you’re unable to lead by example, then you shouldn’t be a leader. Its hard to look forward when you have to keep looking over your shoulder. Despite your position or occupation, you need to be respectful and be a good example to other people. Its called the “Golden Rule”, not the Golden Suggestion, for a reason.

Nix: I believe if a person creates an atmosphere that is not suitable to office, I believe that person should be brought before County Council and Commissioners. A commissioner’s family should in no way be considered as to the quality of work a person does.



Posted 5/27/2020




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