After taking a respite last year, Porter County Council member Dan Whitten,
D-At Large, was picked by his peers on Tuesday to be the board’s president
Whitten takes the reins from Council member Bob Poparad, D-At Large, who did
not receive a nomination to continue in the post.
Aside from Whitten, those receiving nominations included Sylvia Graham, D-At
Large, and Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd.
Rivas, whose nomination came from Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, said he
felt he could not accept it given his conflicts with the Board of County
Commissioners. Rivas had originally been chosen as Council president in 2013
but was replaced by Poparad in a majority vote last March because of
differences between the two boards.
“There is just going to be a fight and a struggle up here with me,” Rivas
Polarek still cast his vote for Rivas while Poparad, Graham, Whitten and
Karen Conover, R-3rd, voted for Whitten. Rivas voted for Graham and member
Jim Biggs, R-1st, abstained from voting.
Conover will be the Council’s vice-president.
The Council voted unanimously to renew their attorney contract, keeping
Scott McClure of Rhame & Elwood as its legal counsel.
The Council proceeded with its fairly brief reorganizational meeting by
naming or voting on appointments.
The Council announced Erik Kozuszek as their Democratic representative to
the County Park Board. Kozuszek, a Duneland resident, will be a new face on
the park board taking over for Rebecca Tomerlin who did not reapply for the
For the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Council appointed Rudy Sutton for
a consecutive term. Also, it reappointed its financial and budget specialist
Vicki Urbanik to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.
Lloyd Kittredge will stay as the Council’s appointment on the Chesterton
Economic Development Commission. For the Portage EDC, the Council chose Mike
Sarver and for Valparaiso EDC, Patrick McGinley.
For the Council’s own appointments, Biggs will serve on the Community
Corrections Advisory Board and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.
Polarek will again be the Council member on the Northwest Indiana Regional
Graham will be on the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and
the Porter County Council on Aging. She will also join Whitten on the
Emergency Management Agency board. Conover will return to the County
Recycling and Waste District board.
The Council reappointed Polarek as its’ citizen representative on the County
Redevelopment Commis-sion, and Whitten choose Rivas to be his proxy on that
The move might meet with some resistance from the Board of Commissioners
which passed an ordinance last year amending an original ordinance put in
place to establish the RDC specifying who can and cannot join the board.
The Commissioners in March voted 3-0 in favor of an ordinance stating
citizen appointments by the Council must be individuals who reside in Porter
County and do not hold an elected County office, meaning Polarek would not
be allowed a continuing term.
There are five members on the RDC, two of them citizen appointments by the
Board of Commissioners and one by the Council. The Commissioner and Council
presidents may also be on the board or appoint a designee.
Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, mentioned earlier Tuesday that
the president’s designee must also be someone who does not hold an elected
office, meaning appointing Rivas would be in conflict with the
Poparad advised his peers about the ordinance but McClure said he believes
the Council can appoint Polarek and Rivas because the state statute to
create local redevelopment commissions would allow them to do so.
He said the state law, in his opinion, would supersede whatever measure the
Commissioners adopted. “I guess we disagree (with the Commissioners),”
McClure told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting.