MARC CHASE: 'Little guys' face important vote in 2014 elections

2014-05-01T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: 'Little guys' face important vote in 2014 electionsMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
May 01, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Are you a "little guy" feeling stomped upon by bigger local government?

As much as our society wants to compartmentalize "little guy" values into the supposed platforms of one political party or the other, in reality it's never that clear.

These are important questions to ponder as we near Tuesday's primary election and consider final party nominees for the November general election.

I suspect many of us count ourselves among the "little guys" — especially in Lake County, where the median household income is about $3,700 less than the nation's.

At a Griffith GOP event last week, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., a Munster native, spoke of his party as the champion of the common taxpayer. I've heard plenty of leading Democrats make similar claims.

Without endorsing particular candidates in the homestretch of the primary election  — or playing booster for one party or the other — I urge voters throughout Northwest Indiana to take an empirical look at the impact of certain candidates on the bottom line of taxpayers' wallets.

You might want to start with an issue that began lightening all Lake County taxpayer paychecks in late 2013 — the new local option county income tax.

Only three of the incumbent Lake County Council members — Republicans Dan Dernulc and Eldon Strong and Democrat Christine Cid — voted against the tax. All three are up for re-election, though only Cid faces competition in her party's primary.

Dernulc and Strong won't be opposed until the November general election.

Those three argued, as have I, that county government had not done nearly enough to trim fat and live within its means before adopting a 1.5 percent income tax on the backs of residents.

Whether you consider yourself a Democrat or Republican, ask yourself, who was looking out for your financial interests in the passage of the county income tax?

Three of the four other County Council incumbents who voted the tax into law — Democrats David Hamm, Elsie Franklin and Ted Bilski — also are running for re-election. Hamm and Franklin face opponents in the May 6 primary; Bilski is unopposed.

The fourth county councilman who voted for the tax, Jerome Prince, is running for county assessor and is opposed in the primary.

Two incumbent township trustees also have been caught up in recent controversies, including the use of taxpayer-funded vehicles for personal use. Winfield Township Trustee Rollie Brauer, who is opposed in the Republican primary, was criticized for having his township-owned SUV at both his home and his Crown Point sign business.

Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin, who is opposed in the Democratic primary, was spotted using her township take-home car for an errand to her campaign office.

Whether you choose a Democrat or Republican ballot in the May 6 primary, you should ponder such issues before voting. Come November, it seems the "little guy" should avoid the straight-party voting button and select candidates based on what they've done, not the political club to which they belong.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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