VALPARAISO | The three Democratic candidates for county council were in the lead at presstime Tuesday night as part of a strong turnout countywide by the party.
Sylvia Graham, 72, who led the pack, said she worked hard in her re-election bid, but was glad the campaign is over with the first negative attack she experienced as a candidate.
Despite the attack she and other Democrat candidates experienced in the form of mailers from the county GOP, Graham vowed to put it behind her and strive to work with other county officials on behalf of residents.
"They do not want any new taxes, but they want services to continue," she said of voters. "That's what we're going to do. We'll work together as a team."
Democrat Dan Whitten, 46, said voters told him they are most concerned with seeing county officials work in a bipartisan manner and keep the county solvent.
"I've got a proven track record for that," he said.
Whitten, who is seeking a third term, said he too was disheartened by the negative mailings from the local GOP.
"I like to think we're better than that," he said.
Democrat Bob Poparad, 54, said voters told him during his bid to return to the council that they are most concerned about the fate of the $160 million in proceeds from the sale of the county hospital, along with the interest, which totaled $11.8 million at the end of July.
He wants to see the principal preserved in its entirety, with the interest used for economic development.
"It's Porter County's endowment," Poparad said.
Republican Mark Hoffman, 62, said he enjoyed his first shot at elected office and found that voters were most interested in the state of the economy.
The county is in a unique position to be able to respond with the hospital sale money, he said.
Republican Joe Wszolek, 58, said voters told him they want to see county officials get along and get something done.
"I've given it my best shot," he said of the campaign.
Republican Ralph Neff could not be reached Tuesday night.