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Two political novices are joining the increasingly crowded field of candidates seeking to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, in Congress.

Highland Democrat Scott Costello said he hopes Northwest Indiana voters will be attracted to his progressive values, while Michigan City Republican Dion Bergeron said it's long past time for a blue collar alternative to the Region's Democratic machine.

Costello is a behavioral health director at a local hospital. If elected, his agenda includes enacting a $15 per hour minimum wage, Medicare for All, college debt forgiveness, free public education through college and sustainable energy policies.

He describes himself as a working-class candidate fighting for the working class. As such, he's forgoing campaign donations from corporations or related interests.

Bergeron is a real estate broker and former truck driver and corrections officer. His goal, if elected, is to bring honest and transparent leadership to a U.S. Congress he believes sorely is in need of both.

He said only someone who understands the struggles and hardships that career politicians never experience can effectively serve all the residents of Indiana's 1st Congressional District, which includes Lake and Porter counties and western LaPorte County.

They are among nearly a dozen Democrats and half-dozen Republicans that already have organized a campaign or filed to run in each party's May 5 primary election.

The deadline for candidates to launch a bid for the Region's rarely vacant U.S. House seat is Feb. 7.

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