VALPARAISO | It will be three Republican newcomers seeking election to the Porter County Council against three Democrats who are either incumbents or have been on the council in the past.
Retiring Valparaiso High School Athletic Director and longtime football coach Mark Hoffman led the field of six Republicans in the Tuesday primary, followed by Ralph Neff and Joe Wszolek to form the trio that will run against incumbents Dan Whitten and Sylvia Graham and former Councilman Bob Poparad.
Also in the race for the GOP were Ralph Iler, Ethan Lowe and Ed Morales. The other Democrat was Ned Kovachevich.
Hoffman kicked off the GOP battle with a pep talk with his fellow candidates at the Silver Spoon after the results were in. Hoffman said he was building on the team concept of his coaching days.
"I'm in a new arena," he said. "I had 40 years of passionate commitment, and right now I'm filled with a lot of passion and excitement and looking forward to a great team working together. I've lived in the community for four decades, and the city and the county have been good to me and my family.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do to pay it back," Hoffman said. "We're 1-0 and heading for the playoffs."
Graham led in votes for Democrats and said, "I'm very happy, honored and very humbled. It's good to have the election and see that people like what you're doing. I try to vote my pocketbook and this is reassuring. We have some big issues, and we will be getting to them."
Council President Whitten said, "I'm happy to get through the primary and get on to the fall election. We will stick to the issues and make people realize the county is going in the right direction with what we're doing, and for four more years we will keep doing it."
Poparad was defeated for re-election two years ago and said, "I want to thank all the people who voted for me. I came in third, but it was a low Democratic turnout. There were no races except ours. I look forward to the campaign in the fall. It will be interesting."