Skinner challenges incumbent Brauer in GOP run-off election for Winfield Twp. trustee

2014-05-04T00:00:00Z Skinner challenges incumbent Brauer in GOP run-off election for Winfield Twp. trusteeSusan Erler susan.erler@nwi.com, (219) 662-5336 nwitimes.com

Incumbent Roland Brauer faces challenger Paulette Skinner in the Republican run-off election for the Winfield Township trustee's office.

Brauer, 56, seeks re-election to a post he has held for five years since being named in 2009 to fill the vacancy created when Trustee John Curley died in office.

Skinner, 66, is in her third term as a Winfield Town Council member, experience that she said would serve her well as trustee.

"I can work with the town," Skinner said. "I work with my Town Council members every day. Moving from the town side to the township side gives me a little insight. I have done things for the township for years and I understand some of their needs."

Brauer said he stands on his accomplishments since taking office.

"I've done a lot in a relatively short period of time," Brauer said. After taking the office at the height of a nationwide recession, Brauer said he analyzed township needs and worked to meet increased poor relief demands.

Under his leadership, the township food pantry was expanded and the township partnered with businesses and churches to create the Businesses Helping Neighbors food donation program to the pantry, Brauer said.

Brauer said he agreed to a $1-a-year lease of space in a township building to help keep down costs for a resale shop run by four area congregations at the location. Township recipients can spend clothing vouchers in the shop.

Brauer said he also helped land jobs for several township residents through creation of a job fair.

Skinner has challenged Brauer on his use of a township-owned vehicle, which she said she would sell and use the proceeds to aid the Lakes of the Four Seasons Fire Department, which serves Winfield Township and the town of Winfield, as well as Lakes of the Four Season and West Porter County Township.

Skinner also said she would not charge the township for mileage.

"There's no reason for mileage. It's just part of the job," Skinner said.

Brauer said he'd driven the 1999 township vehicle, previously used by Fire Department officials, for six months to determine whether it would be more cost-effective than charging for mileage for such township trips as collecting food items from the Northwest Indiana Food Bank, in Gary, or to a township-run community center in Leroy.

After determining the amount spent on mileage was about equal to the cost of driving the vehicle, "I parked the vehicle," Brauer said. "It's more convenient to use my own vehicle."

Skinner, who is retired, said she lives on a farm in the township and is sensitive to the rural community.

"If elected I will be available and will have set hours every week where I am in the township office. You will know that I am there," she said.

Brauer, self-employed in the sign business, said one of his goals if re-elected is to work with the Lakes of the Four Seasons Fire Department on the installation of a well on township property near Leroy for use in fighting fires.

Skinner said the well is also one of her goals.

Joseph Gacsy, 57, will face the winner in the November general election.

Gacsy, a retired carpenter and construction project manager, said he is seeking elected office for the first time as a way to give back to the community.

If elected, "I'm going to think in the forward position. I'm not looking back. I'm not doing the status quo. I'm looking for bigger and better ways to help the community," Gacsy said.

"There's a whole series of people I would like to engage," if elected, Gacsy said, including churches, the Winfield Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce and others.

"Each entity needs to work together to come up with the end game. It could be done better than it's being done," Gacsy said.

Winfield Township includes the towns of Winfield and Leroy, the Lake County side of Lakes of the Four Seasons, and unincorporated areas to just south of U.S. 231, including Palmer.

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