Tuesday morning there will be a local election. I will be among the first to vote, as always. Showing up fifteen minutes ahead of time has been a habit of mine after twenty years of commuting to Chicago. I never have missed a chance to vote. It gives me the right to bitch. The regulars are always there with me, waiting for the polling place to open.
There’s Betsy, the hot little MILF with big dark hair from down the road. She competes in marathons and stops by the polling place while on her morning run wearing that delightful tight black spandex. Woah, wouldn’t want to miss seeing THAT? And there’s Ted, a retired grizzly old steelworker who is as pissed off at the union bullshit as I am. We talk firearms and share hunting stories for a short time since elections happen during the hunting season. Small talk.
This election is local, one where the turnout is very light. This one is mainly for mayor of Valpo and a few other local seats.
Our current mayor is Jon Costas.
Jon is a neighbor of ours living only four doors away. He’s a good man. We have had a few conversations, but I wouldn’t call our relationship as being close. He has a band called The Conservatones and they perform at the Valparaiso Independence Day festivities. Jon beat a long time incumbent democrat attorney who was a do-nothing toad. Jon is a republican who promised to only serve two terms before returning to his lucrative law practice.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Jon a lot. He has helped Valpo lift itself from being a sleepy little rural county seat into a modern community that draws successful businesses. He oversaw the rebuilding of our town square that now boasts fine dining bistros and a vibrant nightlife. It draws folks from far away and they spend their money here. He found state and federal funds that the old mayor never knew existed in order to repair decaying streets and sewers in the older section of town. While I may have a slight problem with that, the money was there for the taking. If we didn’t grab it and use it some urban area would have stolen it and wasted it.
Last year the Indiana Chamber of Commerce gave Valparaiso their top award recognizing this town as their community of the year.
So why do I find myself as conflicted as Chaz Bono standing in front of a urinal?
We built a home on the outskirts of Valparaiso twenty years ago for a number of reasons. We liked the idea of living in a rural area and near a town that is not connected to that unending wasteland known as urban sprawl. Valparaiso is surrounded on all sides by rolling hills of woods and corn and bean fields, not connected to other communities with unending mini malls, chain restaurants, nail parlors, currency exchanges and auto dealerships.
The schools here are outstanding and while there is a drug problem like any other community there are no gangs to speak of. Violent crime is non-existent since everyone here is very well armed. When we go to a grocery store or any other business the employees smile and chat, not like the scowls we were used to living in Illinois.
We left Illinois to get away from urban problems, sprawl, government corruption, malfeasance and the insane intrusion of a state and local nanny government run amok. As they say, love it or leave it and we chose to leave it. We proved to be correct and have no regrets.
This is as close to living in Mayberry USA as Mayberry USA could be to me.
My main problem with Jon is he has bought into what is called ‘regionalism’. Here in northwest Indiana regionalism is a way of co-joining a few counties through a taxing authority in order to create a tax base that supposedly will go to The Greater Good™. Horsehockey!
Lake County Indiana to the west has suffered the loss of industry and failed to plan for any alternative. We never considered moving there. It is a prime example of the democrat industrial union complex that feeds on state and federal handouts without putting the money to good use. They steal it. Since Lake County is in such nasty financial shape their politicians and a lapdog local media have concocted this ‘regional’ concept where they intend on sticking their vacuum hose into the wallets of adjoining counties to pay for past malfeasance and corruption. In doing so they promise growth, jobs and a regional transportation system that will cost an estimated one billion dollars (and we know this is a fraudulently low estimate) that residents here in Porter County have overwhelmingly voted down in a state sanctioned referendum.
Jon is a regional advocate. He wants us to help pay for a shiny new choo-choo in Lake County. Strike one.
Jon also is a strong proponent of multiculturalism. We have waaay too much section 8 housing in Valpo as it is and he seems to welcome more. I have no problem with new neighbors but we need responsible new neighbors, not some Lake County taker transplant low-life grifters just for the sake of broadcasting some benevolent political correctness. Strike two.
I am a firm believer in term limits. Jon promised two terms and now he wants three. Jon considered running for Attorney General until Mitch asked him to step aside for the more conservative Greg Zoeller, who won. Being a good soldier Jon stepped down but he obviously has his sights set on higher office and a lifetime political career. Strike three.
What is our alternative?
Bob McCasland is Jon's only challenger. Bob has served the town as an elected republican official. He is going the independent route to challenge Jon for the second time. Bob stopped by our country bunker before the last election to meet and greet. I invited him in and we spoke.
A nice guy Bob is, he is a local native and a fine family guy who means well and has good intentions. I like him. I told Bob that Jon was doing a fine job. He’s a neighbor, I explained. I was being honest. Bob understood and parted as a friend. Getting to know local politicians in this way helps keep my faith in the system.
This time Bob might get my vote. Bob is against regionalism in any way shape or form. He wants to keep our community tight and exclusive. I just don’t know yet how I will vote and probably won't until I have the punch card in my hand.
It’s a tough choice. Out here. In the hinterlands.
But no matter what happens, our town will still win. That's why I love living here.