Nancy Adams defeats Commissioner Harper

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Republican Nancy Adams celebrates her win for Porter County commissioner Tuesday during a reception at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso. Adams, who owns Strongbow with husband Russ, beat incumbent Bob Harper. Buy This Photo

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VALPARAISO | While her fellow Republicans claimed a near-sweep of Porter County offices Tuesday, Nancy Adams credited a big part of her victory over Democratic Commissioner Bob Harper to hard work.

"Anybody who wanted me to come, I was there," she said of her various speaking engagements.

The newcomer to politics and owner of the Strongbow Inn restaurant in Valparaiso said she also knocked on 8,000 doors while campaigning across the county.

Adams, 48, said she plans to carry the same approach of listening to others when she joins the panel of three commissioners. Her victory also tips the majority on the commission back to the Republicans.

Adams downplayed the benefit she received from the negative campaign waged on her behalf by the Valparaiso Republican Central Committee and said her lack of political experience will be a plus.

"I'm here with an open mind," she said.

Harper, who has served as commissioner since 2003, congratulated Republicans for their strong victory at the county level.

"They got a challenge ahead of them," he said.

He said a preliminary review of the election results showed that a large number of Democrats in the traditional stronghold of Portage sat out this election.

As far as his own defeat, Harper said his message clearly did not resonate with voters.

Adams reiterated her intentions Tuesday to implement a plan for job creation, greater government efficiency and accountability.

She has said she was running because the county needs a strong leader who is willing to cooperate with local, regional and state leaders.

Harper's opposition to the county's continued participation in the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority was also an issue in the campaign.

Adams said while she is no fan of big government or new taxes, she believes there could be situations in which it makes sense to contribute public money to region-building efforts.

"We need to look as a county, what the benefit is for us," she said.

Harper, who has taken heat for implementing tougher rules on developers, said Tuesday some of the first changes from his defeat will come in early January when the GOP-controlled commissioners make appointments to boards such as the county Plan Commission.

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