EDITORIAL: We endorse Biggs, Barone, Jessen

2014-05-02T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: We endorse Biggs, Barone, Jessen nwitimes.com
May 02, 2014 12:00 am  • 

If you're casting a Democratic ballot in Porter County on Tuesday, these endorsements won't mean much to you. That's because the only contested races for Porter County Council are all Republican.

District 1

Kyle Yelton is running against incumbent Jim Biggs.

Biggs, to his credit, voted against this year's unbalanced budget, one of only two council members to do so.

Biggs is not a consensus builder — something the council desperately needs — but can be a brake on bad decisions.

Yelton says many of the same things Biggs does but has no government experience yet.

Biggs promises this will be his last term on the council if he is re-elected. We're fine by that.

Yelton should be put on the Plan Commission or some other government board or commission to get some experience, then run again.

We endorse Biggs, but look forward to a more experienced Yelton in the future.

District 3

Incumbent Karen Conover is running against Russell "Chet" Barone.

Barone is concerned — as he should be — about the unbalanced budget, which Conover approved. His business background would be good for the council.

"I have to watch my cash flow on a daily basis," Barone said. He also wants the county to have a three- to five-year operations plan to prepare for future expenses, an idea Conover likes as well.

Building a new animal shelter, for example, will likely increase operating costs, and the county must prepare for it. That's in contrast to the Porter County Jail, which the county built without budgeting for the additional manpower needed for a larger jail.

Our one concern about Barone is that he said he was inspired to run because he's concerned about funding for schools. That's affected by TIF districts, but the County Council otherwise has little input into the schools' funding.

Even so, Barone is easily capable of this job. We endorse Barone to put fresh blood and business experience on the council.

District 4

Incumbent Jim Polarek, finishing his first term, is running against Michael Jessen and Anthony Pampalone.

Jessen is an experienced Union Township School Board member who is a vice president at the Valparaiso Aldi Foods operation, serving 65 stores.

Pampalone is in his eighth year as Union Township trustee.

Polarek voted against the unbalanced budget for 2014, as was right, but the reasons he ran for office four years ago have already been accomplished. Firefighters have radios, and land has been purchased north of Kouts for a park for youth sports.

Polarek did some good in his first term, but it has been a largely ineffectual council.

Jessen's leadership in the Union Township School Corp. referendum shows his commitment to education and quality of life in Porter County.

Jessen said Polarek should have convinced his fellow councilmen not to pass this year's bad budget, and further criticized the council for spending even more than the budget called for.

That's the kind of thinking the Porter County Council needs. We endorse Jessen.

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