VALPARAISO | Candidates for contested Porter County Council and commissioner seats pretty much agreed with each other Tuesday night during a forum sponsored by the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce.
Early on during the forum, candidates for the Porter County Council at-large seat and Porter County Board of Commissioners 1st District seat were in general agreement that the principal from the sale of Porter Memorial Hospital should serve as the county's nest egg. They also agreed there are improvements being made in the way the county takes care of animals, but more improvements are needed. There should be some sort of public relations person, department or consultant helping county officials with employee issues, they said.
Candidates participating in the forum at the Memorial Opera House included Democrat Laura Blaney, a County Council member seeking the 1st District commissioner's seat, running against Republican Mike Heinold, a south county businessman.
Five of the six at-large council candidates participated, including incumbent Democrats Dan Whitten, Bob Poparad and Sylvia Graham and Republican challengers Mark Hoffman and Joe Wszolek. Republican Ralph Neff could not attend because of a death in his family.
In regards to the hospital proceeds, the candidates agreed the principal should be the county's "nest egg."
"I will not ever vote to spend the principal," Whitten said.
"We should look at it as a reserve fund and keep it as a safety net," Wszolek said.
Poparad went so far as to say it should only be spent after a voter referendum.
As for the interest, most agreed it should be used for economic development, county growth and not to fill gaps in the county's budget.
Graham called for a portion of the interest to be returned to the principal "to let the nest egg grow."
Blaney said, as far as spending the interest, she believes a small committee should be formed to come up with ideas for its use.