The race for the Democratic nomination for Calumet Township trustee pits incumbent Mary Elgin against Gary Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson. This is one of those races you should watch — and you'll definitely want to watch the video of our endorsement interview with the two candidates.
Whoever becomes the next trustee in that township faces big challenges. A new state law requires Calumet Township to drastically reduce its spending or face a possible secession vote by Griffith residents.
Elgin filed a lawsuit against the state to try to rule that law unconstitutional. Robinson said she would discontinue what she called a "frivolous lawsuit."
Elgin noted she has drastically cut township spending already, which is true, but she has been forced to do so because revenue has dropped precipitously. That's a function of not only the property tax caps but also the ridiculously low tax collection rates.
"Money was just flowing out the door" when Robinson was on the Calumet Township Board, Elgin said. That was just before Elgin took office.
Robinson was filling the remaining two years of an unexpired term, so she didn't have much time to put her stamp on the township's budget, and certainly not on day-to-day operations.
Township trustees' primary responsibility is to dole out poor relief. In a township with so much concentrated poverty, that's a full-time job for a number of employees.
Robinson wants to collaborate with unions, WorkOne, universities and others to teach real skills for poor relief recipients. That's happening, to some extent, already, but it needs to expand.
Robinson also wants to conduct a forensic audit as soon as she takes office to see where the money has been going.
The FBI has taken an interest in township operations, too, although the agency is not commenting on the nature or scope of the investigation.
Elgin brought the township a long way from its worst days, but there's still much to be done, and the lawsuit isn't the way to accomplish it.
We endorse Robinson for the Democratic nomination for Calumet Township trustee.