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Porter County Clerk-elect Jessica Bailey intends to bring confidence back to local elections
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Porter County Clerk-elect Jessica Bailey intends to bring confidence back to local elections

VALPARAISO — If it were any other year, Jessica Bailey would already have enough of a challenge ahead preparing to take over the leadership of the Porter County clerk's office.

But the newly elected Democrat takes over Jan. 1 in the wake of a general election that was so riddled with problems the initial vote count came three days late, and the confusion shook confidence in the system.

As clerk, control of the future elections will be on Bailey's shoulders. She is wasting no time learning what went wrong and to work alongside others to see it does not happen again.

"We need to make certain voters feel confident," she said.

Bailey, who works as director of marketing and community development at the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce, said she will begin a "listening tour" this week with fellow county officials who play a role in the local elections. The list includes members of the Election Board and county Board of Commissioners.

Bailey said she also intends to explore how other counties are carrying out elections and what works for them in hope of hitting the ground running when she takes office.

"What that will look like next year is still up in the air," she said.

Bailey defeated Republican Jon Miller, the current county recorder, to win the clerk's seat. The current clerk, Republican Karen Martin, has caught much of the blame for the problems that resulted in 12 polling places opening late on Election Day last week, including a shortage of poll workers and mishandled ballots.

When the initial vote totals finally came in around noon Friday, Bailey described the prior three days as like being on a roller coaster stuck in a tunnel.

"You could see the light at the end of the tunnel; you just couldn't get there," she said.

Bailey had said if elected clerk, she would work with community and state leaders in a bipartisan effort to increase voter turnout and update voting equipment to maintain secure elections.

New clerk to seek continuous improvements

Bailey, who is serving her second term on the Portage Township School Board, described herself as having a strong work ethic, administrative background and good written and verbal skills.

"Serving six years on the Portage Township School Board has taught me how to collaborate with local government leaders, maintain a budget and work for the taxpayers of the community," she said.

She has a master’s degree in public administration and nonprofit management, has a strong background in technology, and described herself as a hands-on leader.

Bailey said in addition to reviewing the election process in preparation for taking office, she plans to review the system in place within the clerk's office to improve upon areas red-flagged during past state audits.

"I believe in continuous improvement for myself and the organizations I am involved with," she said. "I strive to find new ways to streamline tasks and redistribute money that is saved back to the organization."

"As a change-maker, I understand that I may not always have the answer, but I do know how to collaborate and work with others to get the answer and to complete the task," Bailey said.

Another priority will be to see about digitizing more records in the clerk's office, she said.

Republican Porter County Election Board President David Bengs said control of the elections will remain with the clerk, where the Election Board moved it earlier this year from its longtime home with the county voter registration office.

The move is appropriate under the law, he said.

Bengs appeared pleased to hear Bailey intends to discuss the process with local officials and said those entities should include the County Council, which will need to purchase new equipment, and the Board of Commissioners and Election Board.

"Because of the magnitude of what happened, this will be all levels," he said.

The final vote count will come Friday, when contested ballots are reviewed and included if deemed appropriate. The deadline for filing challenges will be noon Nov. 20, Bengs said.

Porter County results

Candidate Total
PRECINCTS REPORTING 123 of 123
PORTER COUNTY CLERK
Jessica A. Bailey (D) 31,773
Jon C. Miller (R) 31,188
PORTER COUNTY AUDITOR
Vicki Urbanik (D) 33,486
Karen Martin (R) 29,546
PORTER COUNTY RECORDER
Lily M. Schaefer (D) 30,355
Chuck Harris (R) 32,366
PORTER COUNTY SHERIFF
David M. Reynolds (D) 43,698
PORTER COUNTY CORONER
Randy Wilkening (D) 30,027
Cyndi Dykes (R) 32,895
PORTER COUNTY ASSESSOR
Jon Snyder (R) 39,957
PORTER COUNTY COMMISSIONER - DISTRICT 2
Donna Perdue (D) 30,312
Jeff Good (R) 32,622
PORTER COUNTY COUNCIL - DISTRICT 1
Bob Poparad (D) 9,032
Andy Bozak (R) 9,017
PORTER COUNTY COUNCIL - DISTRICT 2
Jeremy Rivas (D) 9,097
PORTER COUNTY COUNCIL - DISTRICT 3
Greg Simms (D) 8,501
Mark "Coach" Hoffman (R) 7,826
PORTER COUNTY COUNCIL - DISTRICT 4
Susie Talevski (D) 6,105
Mike Jessen (R) 9,777
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY OF PORTER COUNTY, 67TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
Gary Germann (D) 34,398
Brian T. Gensel (R) 29,230
PORTER COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE 2
Clay M. Patton (D) 30,159
Jeffrey W. Clymer (R) 33,200
PORTER COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE 6
Jeffrey L. Thode (R) 40,083
BOONE TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Russell "Rusty" Franzman (R) 1,612
BOONE TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Jim Martin (R) 1,105
Jeff Patz (R) 972
Dan Roeske (R) 967
CENTER TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Jesse R. Harper (D) 9,609
Doug Miller (R) 8,092
CENTER TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Todd A. Eltzer (D) 6,837
Debra E. Fray (D) 7,558
Erin Labovitz (D) 6,618
Stephen R. Buck (R) 7,257
Amy Daly (R) 6,808
Mark D. Ribordy (R) 6,542
JACKSON TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Janice M. Meyers (D) 1,635
JACKSON TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
C. Diane Bates (D) 953
Judith L. Guernsey (R) 1,068
Mark J. Jaeger (R) 855
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Matt Keiser (R) 2,703
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Tim Cole (R) 1,578
Terry E. Dunn (R) 1,252
Jacquelyn M. Sterling (R) 1,509
MORGAN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Rodney King (R) 1,338
MORGAN TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMEBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Andrew Blastick (R) 991
Lee Kleist (R) 660
Richard Schultz (R) 704
PINE TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Andrew P. Himan Jr. (D) 565
Tammy Marie Watkins (R) 581
PINE TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMEBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Matthew Smith (D) 444
Joe Wagner (D) 518
Tom Carlson (R) 387
Tom Lipinski (R) 381
Margaret (Peggy) Richardson (R) 421
PLEASANT TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Karyl Vandyke (R) 1,400
PLEASANT TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Joshua M. Birky (R) 988
Melissa (Wise) Birky (R) 830
David Overholt (R) 810
PORTAGE TOWNSHIP ASSESSOR
Alta Neri (D) 10,477
PORTAGE TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Brendan Clancy (D) 11,014
PORTAGE TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Nikita A. Momola (D) 5,758
Terry L. Whitten (D) 6,580
Lori J. Wilkie (D) 6,548
Antonio C. Gutierrez (R) 4,831
Joyce Webster (R) 4,578
PORTER TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Edward K. Morales (R) 2,676
PORTER TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
William H. Casbon (R) 1,727
Chris Hendron (R) 1,332
Albert J. Webster (R) 1,090
UNION TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
George H. Topoll (R) 2,757
UNION TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Robert "Bob" D. Emery (R) 1,764
Stan Major (R) 1,226
Bryan Waisanen (R) 1,143
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Lynn Ross (R) 1,538
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
J. Ryan Anderson (D) 647
Linda Armstrong (D) 1,012
Andrew Funk (R) 948
Jean Martin (R) 968
WESTCHESTER TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
Suzanne Philbrick (D) 5,503
WESTCHESTER TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS (VOTE FOR 3)
Robin E. Chubb (D) 3,753
Cheryl M. Evans (R) 2,666
Barbara J. Stroud (R) 2,332
TOWN OF KOUTS COUNCIL MEMBER - DISTRICT 2
Kevin M. Salyer (R) 575
TOWN OF KOUTS COUNCIL MEMBER - DISTRICT 4
Timothy L. Jones (R) 574
TOWN OF OGDEN DUNES CLERK TREASURER
Jean Manna (I) 494
TOWN OF OGDEN DUNES TOWN COUNCIL MEMBER - DISTRICT 5
Douglas Cannon (D) 522
DUNELAND SCHOOL BOARD
Robert (Bob) Filipek 3,078
Alayna Lightfoot Pol 5,256
Stephen A. Rohe 1,384
Rhonda "Rho" Turner Day 1,871
Brian Nicholas Custy 4,155
Ronald (Red) Stone 6,711
Brandon Kroft 8,580
EAST PORTER COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
Richard McSparin 3,178
Elizabeth A. McFalls 3,079
Robert P. Martin 3,100
METROPOLITAN DISTRICT OF BOONE SCHOOL BOARD
Keith Buchanan 1,130
Richard Edward Milcarek Jr. 475
Gerald "Jerry" Michalak 1,079
Tim Riese 508
Stephanie B. Mathews 884
John (Jeff) Nilsen 719
MICHIGAN CITY AREA SCHOOL BOARD
Peggy Rose 466
Thomas R. Dombkowski 317
Theresa C. Edwards 322
Agnes Meer 287
Joanne Tedesco 323
PORTAGE TOWNSHIP SCHOOL BOARD
Andrew Maletta 9,062
Joan L. Machuca 5,112
Troy J. Williams 7,212
Mary Clancy 5,766
Scott A. Falk 3,364
Rhonda A. Nelson 2,557
PORTER TOWNSHIP SCHOOL BOARD
Johanna Williams 2,090
Laura Chavez 1,977
UNION TOWNSHIP SCHOOL BOARD
Keith Wade Anderson 800
Stacey Buehler 1,868
Michael J. Simatovich 2,388
Julie L. Giorgi 2,306
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT
Yes 32,918
No 15,726
JUDGE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS - DISTRICT 2
Yes 33,423
No 14,972
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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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