MICHIGAN CITY – All three of the incumbent County Council members running for re-election were victorious this week, showing that, as one candidate put it, "experience does matter."
In the District 2 race, incumbent Democrat Randy Novak defeated Republican Jim Rice by a wide margin (59.8 to 40.2 percent of the vote).
Novak, who serves as Michigan City's fire chief, believes voters realize experience is important.
"I think it was my experience, and having a good support group that made the difference," he said. "My support base was outstanding and I am very thankful for all the people who supported me. ... We ran a good, clean campaign."
Novak said he is well-known for his "community work," and that also played a role in the victory. "I've been volunteering and helping in the community for three decades, and people know that I am sincere in what I say."
Even though he was defeated, Rice said his campaign was well-run and his experience helped.
“Overall. I am pleased, and very happy with all those who supported me," he said. "I’d like to congratulate Randy Novak on his win."
In the race for the District 3, incumbent Democrat Mark Yagelski beat Republican Chris Jackson by an even wider margin, taking 66.3 percent of the vote to Jackson's 33.7 percent.
“I wouldn’t have done anything different and I don’t look back and see this as a lost cause,” Jackson said. “I have no hard feelings toward Mark Yagelski and I hope he does his best for our community.”
He said he will “think about” running again in four years, but is not certain.
The third incumbent on the ballot, Republican Terry Garner, was unopposed for the District 1 seat.
Another Republican, Michael Rosenbaum, will be the lone newcomer on the council, after taking 56.2 percent of the vote to beat Democrat Steve Holifield. Rosenbaum had beaten incumbent Republican Cary Kirkham in the May primary.
“We won through door-to-door campaigning, mailings and radio ads,” Rosenbaum said. “We had support across party lines. I’d like to thank my family and my supporters for this win.”
He said one of his goals is to achieve transparency in the council office, and added he intends to do a lot of long-term planning.
Holifield said he ran an honest campaign – without party support
“I wanted to distance myself from the party,” Holifield said of the Democrats. “For next election, at this point I don’t know if I will be running. I have to think it over.”
Novak said while La Porte County is in "pretty good financial shape overall," the council will face some challenges in the coming years.
"The council is responsible for the financials of the county and there are some big projects coming up, some things I'd like to see added to the budget."
He cited the Michigan City courthouse upgrade project, estimated at $17 million to $19 million, as one of the bigger upcoming projects.
Overall, "I just want to continue to be fiscally responsible," he said.