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VALPARAISO | City Council appointments to commissions and boards were announced during a council meeting Monday.

The meeting was the first of the year for a revamped council that includes five new members — three Democrats and two Republicans. The diverse seven-member council is made up of four Republicans and three Democrats. Four of the seven are women and Robert Cotton is the first African-American council member in Valparaiso. 

Council President John Bowker said the council had previously gotten together before the new members were sworn in to review and make the new appointments. He said members were nominated for each position and the only contentious one was for the two positions on the Redevelopment Commission. 

Choosing the appointments was handled individually and Bowker said he was nominated by councilwoman Trista Hudson and selected unanimously for one appointment. New councilmen Matt Murphy and Robert Cotton were each nominated for the other appointment and were given an opportunity to discuss their backgrounds on why they would be the best candidate. 

Murphy was chosen in a 4-3 vote, Bowker said. 

At Monday's meeting Cotton called the appointments to the commissions and boards a "rude awakening." Cotton, who was appointed as the council liaison for engineering and code enforcement, said he would hope there would be consideration that would give decision-making and voting-type of powers to people who reflect what the voters wanted.

"Every voice counts," he said.

Cotton did say he "expects the best from the council." 

The RDC appointments also raised the ire of Center Township Democratic Chairman Kevin Cornett. 

"One would think the makeup of that board would be a little bit different considering the makeup of the council," he said. "It wouldn't be two white Republican males appointed to this board. We have a very diverse group so I was a little surprised by that."

Hudson, who is also the new council vice president, was appointed to the Plan Commission.  Lenore Hoffman is the appointment to the Traffic and Safety Commission and Bowker to the Shared Ethics Commission Joint Board of Delegates. Diana Reed is the appointment to the Fire Territory. 

Council liaison positions for 2016 include: Bowker, Administration; Hoffman and Deb Porter, Community Schools; Reed, Park Department; Murphy and Porter, Utilities; Hudson, Public Safety; and Murphy, Public Works. 


Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.