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Stage set for general elections

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - While Tuesday's party primaries were relatively uneventful, they set the stage for a major general election in November.
      Up for grabs on a national level will be the presidency and the Congress; on a state level, the governor's office and the statehouse; and on the local level, several county offices.
     Turnout was so low Tuesday that candidates could not get a good feel for their positions heading into the fall campaign.
     "You can massage those numbers any way you want," Ron Johnson Jr., a candidate for state representative, said.
     In Tuesday's primary, the area's Democratic voters renominated Pete Visclosky for the first district congressional seat and Greg Goodnight to challenge Steve Buyer in the fifth district.
     David Johnson ran unopposed for the chance to take on U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar this fall. The national ticket will be headed by Al Gore and a yet-to-be-determined running mate.
     Local Democrats had no choices in state races. Gov. Frank O'Bannon and Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan will head the ticket, and State Rep. Robert Kuzman will run for a third term in the House of Representatives.
     In county contests, Democrats chose David Pastrick for coroner and incumbent Morris Carter for recorder.
      County Commissioner Gerry Scheub was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for the second district commissioner's seat, as was George Van Til for county surveyor.
     On the Republican side, the only contests were for the first district congressional nomination, and the governor's office.
     Mark Leyva defeated Jack Reynolds for the chance to take on Visclosky, while state Republican voters chose David McIntosh over John Price in their effort to regain the governor's office.
     Buyer is again the party's candidate in the fifth district congressional race, and Lugar is running for reelection to the Senate. The national ticket will be headed by George Bush and his running mate.
     For the Indiana House of Representatives Johnson will challenge Kuzman.
     In county races, Hank Adams will challenge Scheub for the south county commissioner's seat; Daniel Langmesser will be the party's candidate for recorder; and Mike White of Lowell will run for coroner.
     No Republican entered the race for surveyor.

Crown Point News
Hoffman wins, Root unopposed
Voter turnout proved to be low during the day for this year's primary election races

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - Tom Hoffman defeated Jim Arges for a seat on the School Board Tuesday, while Dan Root coasted to an uncontested victory.
     Hoffman defeated Arges resoundingly, with an unofficial vote total of 1,667-820, to win the Winfield Township seat on the board.
     Root, who will represent the city of Crown Point on the board, received 1,992 votes.
     Both now turn their attention to July, when they officially take their seats on the board.
     "I'm looking forward to it," Hoffman said.
     Root said he hoped the coming years would bring healing to the community, divided for most of the 1990's over the issue of building a new high school.
     "The key issue is to instill a sense of cohesion throughout the entire school corporation," Root said.
     The Crown Point system includes all of Winfield and Center townships, taking in all or part of Crown Point, Cedar Lake, Winfield, Lakes of the Four Seasons, and the unincorporated areas of the townships.
     Voter turnout was low for Tuesday's election. More than 5,300 people voted in the School Board election two years ago. Only around 2,500 voted Tuesday.
     Hoffman attributed the low turnout to the few competitive races in party primaries, and, he said, "I think there's a feeling that because the (new high) school is approved, that is a done deal."
     The new board members will have the responsibility of overseeing construction of the building, and making the myriad of choices that come up during a major construction project.
     Besides that, they will take the reins of a cash-strapped school corporation trying to rebuild its financial reserves.
     Root and Hoffman succeed a pair of one-term board members, Charles Kleinschmidt and Jackie Webster.
     Those two were elected in 1996 as pro-new school candidates, and were followed two years later by Michael McCormick and B.J. Hubbard, who filled out the pro-school majority.
     Root and Hoffman were endorsed by their predecessors. Both were involved in the drive for the new high school.


Turtillo, Westerhoff and Kaper net posts

By Kathie Godfrey
Star Correspondent

CEDAR LAKE - Despite 70 degree temperatures and sunny skies Tuesday, less than 25 percent of registered voters elected to end the careers of two veteran school board members in the wake of accusations of financial impropriety on the board.
     When it was over, Hanover School Board President Catherine Sheehy lost her ninth bid for reelection to newcomer James Turturillo - a St. John Police Officer - by 145 votes. Denise Goltz, the third at-large candidate who dropped out of the running after receiving a threatening phone call, garnered 49 votes.
     Incumbent Patricia Kocot, a member of the board for 16 years, lost her District 2 seat to challenger William Westerhoff, brother of Town Councilman Allan Westerhoff (R-5th) - by 345 votes.
     Board Vice President Roger Patz will vacate his 1st District seat after 12 years to Marilyn Kaper - owner of Cedar Lake Florist & Gifts - who trounced substitute teacher Shelly Jean Laud by 147 votes.
     Patz said he had attempted to silence Sheehy and Kocot's detractors - Hanover parents Deborah Howe and Chris Bugajski - by requesting two separate audits of financial records for trip expenses that were called into question, back in January. He said both state and county auditors had turned down his request because they had found nothing to justify a special audit.
     But Howe - who was stationed outside of American Legion Post 261 to ask voters entering the polling place to vote for Westerhoff and Turturillo Tuesday said she remained concerned about the amount of money spent by board members for luxury hotels during travel.
"They don't double up on the rooms - they take their spouses and that means we have to pay for more $200-a-night hotel rooms," she said. Howe lost her bid for a board seat in 1996 to Kocot.
     Sheehy and Kocot and their family and friends gathered at the Legion hall after the polls closed to offer their support to each other.
     "I hope they can live with what they've accused us of," Sheehy said. "It's bad that in a small town like this people have to play dirty tricks when the auditors themselves found nothing wrong." Sheehy said she expected Bugajski - who was defeated in her bid for a school board seat in May 1998-to run again in two years.
     Kocot said she had chosen not to address the accusations.
     "The voters made their choice," she said. "Time will tell if the accusations were founded."



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