PORTAGE — Democrat Nina Rivas appeared to win the race Tuesday night to become the city's new Clerk-Treasurer.
Rivas was running against Republican challenger Deborah Lee.
"I commend Deborah Lee for running a clean campaign," Rivas said. "I look forward to working for the city of Portage — a lot of work to be done."
Rivas will take over the seat now held by Democrat Clerk-Treasurer Christopher Stidham, who made a failed bid earlier this year for mayor.
Rivas has said her interest in local government was sparked several years ago when concerns over a neglected township park went unaddressed and a community cleanup effort was organized.
"We got involved because we wanted to make a difference," she said. "I am running for clerk-treasurer for that same reason. I believe my qualifications and passion for good government can make a difference in the city. That is why I am running."
Rivas said her top priority is to comply with guidelines and procedures set forth by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
"For well over a decade, the city has had somewhat of a 'black eye' audit report on file with the SBOA," she said.
She also intends to help address the city's financial concerns by "stretching current income, prioritizing spending, and finding alternative funding sources. Working with city officials to create a grant coordinator position will help facilitate this."
Rivas also intends to improve transparency and public oversight by easing access to public records and city proceedings.
"Increased citizen engagement is important for the overall well-being of the city," she said. "I believe it will reduce the level of distrust and will be an effective tool to educate citizens about governmental activities."