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She’s back: Brillson in by slim margin

November 7, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — The race for La Porte County Commissioner was a nail-biter on Tuesday night, with Democrat Sheila Brillson hanging on to win with 51.08 percent of the vote.

She overtook incumbent Republican Connie Gramarossa, who was appointed to the position earlier this year to fill the seat previously held by Mike Gonder, who stepped down for personal reasons.

Receiving 18,797 votes on Tuesday, Brillson returns to La Porte County politics, having previously served eight years on the Michigan City Common Council, and then serving as Michigan City mayor from 1996 to 2003.

Afterward, Brillson moved to Washington state with her family, leading workforce development and employment programs, veteran job retraining and community health services for regional and statewide operations — but she was happy to return home to La Porte County.

“I love La Porte County,” Brillson said shortly after the race was called in her favor Tuesday night. “I may have been gone, but emotionally I never left. This is my home, this is where I raised my family.”

During her campaign, Brillson said the county needed strong leadership, transparency and a “no-nonsense” government.

“People who know me know I’m straightforward,” she said on Tuesday. “I’m horrified to see the lack of transparency (in government), and that’s what voters deserve.”

Looking ahead, Brillson said she is ready to get started in this new role.

Overcome with emotion when the race was called in her favor, she said she’s honored to have gained the trust of La Porte County residents. She also thanked her opponent for a good race, saying she and Gramarossa only had good things to say about each other.

“She ran a really good race … We didn’t go negative, and I admire her for that.”

Brillson watched the election results roll in with several fellow Democrats on Tuesday night at the St. Joe Club in Michigan City, surrounded by family and supporters.

Throughout the evening, Brillson wore a special necklace — one that her son and campaign manager, Michael Bergerson, believes may be a good luck charm. It was the same necklace Brillson wore when she won her first bid for mayor by a narrow margin.

“It’s gotten her through a lot of tight races,” Bergerson said.

Gramarossa did not speak to reporters in La Porte on Tuesday night.

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