Porter County voters are fortunate to have two gentlemen running for 3rd District county commissioner, a position serving the northern tier of the county.
Republican Jim Biggs and Democrat Jeff Chidester are running their campaigns the right way, by promoting their own virtues and not by tarring their opponent.
Both candidates would serve ably and without a steep learning curve.
Biggs is no stranger to Porter County government. He is in his sixth year on the Porter County Council, and he served two four-year terms as commissioner in the past. He kept his promise then to serve only two consecutive terms, and he’s making the same promise this time.
Chidester is no stranger to politics, having served as a precinct committeeman in Lake County before moving to Porter County about a dozen years ago. He is now Porter County’s Democratic chairman. As a union treasurer, he has handled big budgets, big projects and big contracts.
Porter County is unusual in Indiana in that cash flow isn’t really a problem. The last time the county sold bonds for a construction project was for the 1999 jail construction, Biggs said. But now the buildings need work, and the county will have to determine what the most pressing needs are and how to address them.
Chidester suggested the courtyard at the Porter County Administration Building could be eliminated to add storage and office space. That could give a permanent, secure place to store voting machines and a permanent space for early voting, he said. Offices now in leased space could be consolidated in the expanded building, and the monthly rent could be applied to the construction cost instead, Chidester contends.
Biggs is waiting for results of a study of building conditions before making a decision.
When he was commissioner, he reviewed a jail conditions study that was inconclusive and set up a blue ribbon panel, which ultimately recommended a new jail with specifics on type, suggested location and size.
The north Porter County government center in Portage is going to need to be addressed. The county has a lot of land there. Is it wiser to remain at the current site or to move to downtown Portage, as Mayor James Snyder hopes? That’s a decision the commissioners will have to consider during the next four years.
Both Biggs and Chidester are undecided. Chidester said he wouldn’t recommend moving unless a buyer is found for the existing site first.
Drainage is a big concern in Porter County, as it is everywhere else. Biggs, who was instrumental in the creation of the Twin Creeks Conservancy District, wants the county to take over drainage issues in South Haven and Salt Creek Commons. Fixing drainage there must be done before road beds are rebuilt, he said, and he’s right.
As we reviewed both candidates, we decided Porter County citizens would be well served either way. Biggs’ experience, however, gives him an edge over Chidester. Biggs already has a proven track record of getting things done. He would be a good fit as a county commissioner with Democrat Laura Shurr Blaney, who is unopposed in District 1 (South), and Republican Jeff Good, who has two more years in his term.
We endorse Biggs.