EDITORIAL: We endorse Evans for commissioner

2012-05-04T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: We endorse Evans for commissioner nwitimes.com
May 04, 2012 12:00 am

Probably the hottest race in Porter County this year is is for the Republican nomination for Porter County commissioner in District 3, where incumbent John Evans faces former Commissioner Jim Biggs.

In the general election, the winner of this race will face, well, who knows? With no Democratic candidate on the ballot, it will be up to the county's Democratic Party chairman to try to recruit someone to run in the fall.

Evans, now president of the Board of Commissioners, set up a "jobs cabinet" to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy for the county. It was a smart move.

But the jobs cabinet appears to be operating in secrecy, not letting the public in on its deliberations.

"You just can't do things this way," Biggs said. It's a valid point. That group is doing the public's business, after all.

Biggs is a member of the Porter County Council, one of three members of the council running for commissioner this spring. Relations between the commissioners and the council have been strained.

Evans spoke to this issue. He said he calculated what was needed for building maintenance, requested that amount from the council, but got only half of what he needed.

So many anti-Evans votes have come from the council that Evans said he has begun referring to Jim Biggs, Jeremy Rivas and Jim Polarek as "the No-Jays."

One of the potentially divisive issues in Porter County now is animal control, along with the Porter County Animal Shelter. Things have improved in recent months, but it's still clear that the existing animal shelter building is inadequate for a no-kill operation.

Evans proposes building a new county garage for repairing Sheriff's Department vehicles to a site near Porter County Jail and creating an impound lot there, too. The two county garage buildings would be leveled and the concrete pads used to build an animal shelter complex, with an exercise area between the two buildings. The existing animal shelter then would be turned over to animal control officers for their use.

It's a valid topic for comparison because the animal shelter was hotly debated when Biggs was commissioner, too. The difference is that now something appears to be on the verge of being accomplished.

Biggs wants a comprehensive strategic plan for the county, similar to what Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas has done for his city. Evans should begin this process.

The candidates spoke at length on many other topics, including how to deal with the proceeds from the sale of Porter hospital, and the differences between the two candidates became clear.

Evans got off to a slow start but is now accomplishing things. He has hit some snags in the process, but he's just now hitting his stride. Biggs has some good ideas that must be heard, but he can be abrasive.

Even if Biggs loses the primary, he will remain a voice on county issues by virtue of his seat on the County Council. Voters, choose Evans this time to see what he can accomplish now that he is president of the commissioners.

We endorse Evans for the Republican nomination for north Porter County commissioner.

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