Pair vie for council seat

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - News - By Craig Lyons Post-Tri­bune

Two multi-term town coun­cil­men from Low­ell and St. John have both set their sights on the County Council seat rep­re­sent­ing the south­ern por­tion of Lake County.

Repub­li­can Chris­tian Jor­gensen, of St. John, is an at­tor­ney and mem­ber of the St. John Town Council. Jor­gensen beat in­cum­bent Coun­cil­man El­don Strong, R-Crown Point, in the May pri­mary by two votes. Strong asked for a re­count but con­ceded the elec­tion af­ter a day of re­view­ing bal­lots in June.

South County Democrats in June chose Phillip Kuiper to fill a bal­lot va­cancy for the seat. No Demo­cratic can­di­date ran for the seat dur­ing the May pri­mary.

Kuiper was a three-term Low­ell town coun­cil­man, rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Lake County Solid Waste District, ac­tive in the Demo­cratic Party and for­mer state rep­re­senta tive candi date. Kuiper said he’s also been ac­tive in a num­ber of youth sports groups.

A Demo­crat hasn’t been elected to the 7th District County Council seat in more than 50 years, ac­cord­ing to county records.

Chris­tian Jor­gensen

Jor­gensen said he’s best suited for the County Council be­cause he’s al­ready han­dled the same is­sues fac­ing South County.

Jor­gensen said St. John was be­hind the eight ball on its plans for de­vel­op­ment and in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments when he took of­fice. Jor­gensen said he and the other mem­bers of the Town Council had to come up with so­lu­tions for how to guide the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment.

“I see the same thing oc­cur­ring all over Lake County,” Jor­gensen said.

South County is see­ing a shift in pop­u­la­tion den­sity as more peo­ple are mov­ing into the area, Jor­gensen said, and de­vel­op­ment is start­ing to out­pace in­fra­struc­ture work.

Jor­gensen said his goal is to get more money for re­pairs and in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance in South County.

Jor­gensen said the county needs to have a plan for how South County is go­ing to look.

“That’s one of my big­gest con­cerns,” Jor­gensen said.

He said he’d bring a level of ed­u­ca­tion, busi­ness acu­men and le­gal ex­pe­ri­ence to the County Council.

Jor­gensen said he thinks St. John is an ex­am­ple of what can hap­pen when peo­ple with new ideas, broader ex­pe­ri­ence and ed­u­ca­tion are elected. Jor­gensen said he’d like to look at the sur­plus the county is ac­cu­mu­lat­ing from the in­come tax and per­sonal prop­erty tax. He said he’d look at how to take that money and put it to­ward prop­erty tax re­lief.

If the county con­tin­ues ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a sur­plus, some­thing needs to go back to the tax­pay­ers, Jor­gensen said.

Jor­gensen said he’s shown the vot­ers in the 7th District that he wants the seat and went through the pri­mary process be­fore mov­ing along to the gen­eral elec­tion. Jor­gensen said the Democrats only put a can­di­date up af­ter the pri­mary.

Phillip Kuiper

Kuiper, a for­mer Low­ell town coun­cil­man, said he’s the only can­di­date that will truly rep­re­sent the 7th District.

“There’s only one South County can­di­date,” Kuiper said. “That’s me.”

Kuiper said vot­ers are less con­cerned about po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion but want a coun­cilper­son who they can talk to. Kuiper said that’s what South County res­i­dents have al­ways had in peo­ple like Gerry Scheub, Rick Niemeyer and El­don Strong.

“This is all about rep­re­sent a t i o n ,” Kuiper said.

He said a ma­jor pri­or­ity for res­i­dents is pro­tect­ing the char­ac­ter of South County.

He said even new res­i­dents en­joy the small-town feel of the area.

“They’re mov­ing here for a rea­son,” Kuiper said. “Ev­i­dently, they like what they’re see­ing right now.”

Kuiper said peo­ple want to see new busi­nesses come into the area, but that might not mean large com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments.

He said he’ll take time to talk to any busi­ness that’s in­ter­ested in South County, whether it would cre­ate five jobs or 100.

“I will be will­ing to lis­ten to any­one that wants to come into South County,” Kuiper said.

As de­vel­op­ment hap­pens, Kuiper said he knows that roads and in­fra­struc­ture are a big is­sue.

Lake County of­fi­cials need to lobby the Leg­is­la­ture to get money to im­prove the roads and in­fra­struc­ture, Kuiper said, and see if the state will take some of its sur­plus to aid that work.

Kuiper said if he’s elected to the council, he won’t sup­port any new taxes. He said things have lev­eled out in Lake County and the council should give them some re­lief be­fore adding to the bur­den.

Kuiper said he sup­ports a new con­ven­tion cen­ter in Lake County but is op­posed to a food and bev­er­age tax.

“I won’t vote for that,” Kuiper said. “I’m all for progress but go get pri­vate money.”



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