The 2019 General Elections – Hobart, Portage and Valpo
For what is believed to be the first time in the region’s history, some Northwest Indiana voters saw Green Party candidates on their ballots in the November 2019 General election. Susan Brown ran as a candidate for Valparaiso City Council 1st District; Joseph Conn ran as a candidate for Hobart City Council At-Large; and Michael Cooper ran as a candidate for Portage City Council 2nd District. In a bold move to upturn the local political scene dominated by the two major political parties the addition of Green Party candidates in the State of Indiana adds to the momentum building in the country around a Green New Deal, living wages, housing affordability and human rights.
Brown’s jump into the Valparaiso 1st District race made it a three-woman race for that seat. A veteran journalist, now retired, Brown was an investigative reporter for the NWI Times covering government, courts and criminal justice issues. She served on a reporting team from seven Indiana newspapers that produced the 1998 award-winning “State of Secrecy” series. The team traveled to all 92 counties investigating the level of government compliance with the Indiana Public Records and Meetings statutes. Brown holds numerous national and state journalism awards, including two Lisagor Awards from the Chicago Headline Club. “After decades of serving as a government watchdog, I look forward to serving in government, again striving to safeguard the public’s best interest,” said Brown, who was recently elected Chair of the Indiana Green Party.
Conn sought to unseat one of two at-large Hobart City Council incumbents. “I believe what the majority of environmental scientists are saying is true: global warming is real, and we have a short time left to deal with it,” Conn said. “I promise to be a city council member who is laser focused on combating climate change, so that Hobart is doing all it can to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.” Conn is a retired, award-winning journalist, who has worked for the Hobart Gazette and Post-Tribune newspapers, covering local governments in Hobart, Merrillville, Crown Point, Gary and Valparaiso, Lake County Council and Commissioners, the environment, as well as the NWI steel industry and unions. He served seven terms as president of the Gary Newspaper Guild union, AFL-CIO, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and co-founded NWI Medicare for All.
Rev. Cooper is a local clergy person and longtime Human Rights advocate. Rev. Cooper led a group of progressives in Portage that presented to the City Council a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance which failed to get full consideration by the Democratic-controlled council. “The Portage City Council refused to acknowledge that discrimination happens in Portage and the effects it has against our communities of color, our immigrant communities and our GBLTQ communities based solely on the systemic racism that has plagued the white dominated political machines of Portage, “ he said. Recently, Rev. Cooper spoke against three middleman online gun exchange businesses operating out of homes in residential neighborhoods of the city, resulting in protests by gun advocates in front of his church. “When at the following month’s council meeting I was met with a lynch mob, complete with a pit-bull, promoted by three candidates for City Council including my own,” he said. “I knew I had to step forward and force the change in the values that are making policy decisions for our city.”