A Lake County, Indiana judge says George Janiec is ineligible to run in the Hammond mayoral primary because he is a member of the city’s nonpartisan public school board.
Lake County Superior Court Judge Jesse Villalpando Jr.’s ruling says if Janiec wants to run in the race, he’ll have to resign from the school board first.
“Janiec is the person who created this controversy and logically is the only person who can remove the condition undermining his municipal ambitions. He still has time to help himself,” Villalpando wrote in his ruling released Wednesday afternoon.
Four years ago, Janiec came within 500 votes of upsetting incumbent Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.
Janiec won a seat on the Hammond school board just last year, but in February, he wanted another crack at trying to become mayor of Northwest Indiana’s largest city.
Earlier this month, his candidacy was challenged by a Hammond resident on the grounds that Janiec could not run for a partisan office while holding a position on a nonpartisan board.
A majority of the Lake County Election and Voters Registration Board agreed and voted to remove Janiec from the primary ballot at its meeting in early March.
Janiec challenged that ruling in Lake County Superior Court.
“On the day before filing closed in February, 2011, as Janiec himself told the court on March 29, Janiec broke that pledge when he filed his Declaration of Candidacy for Municipal Election, declaring himself a partisan candidate for Mayor, City of Hammond,” Villalpando wrote.
Villalpando had said last week that he would rule by this Friday, April 1; instead, he ruled two days earlier than that. The judge has noted that, in this case, “time is of the essence” because early voting ballots have already been printed without Janiec’s name included.
Early voting starts Monday, with the primary opening on May 3.
Villalpando has scheduled a final hearing on the case for Thursday at 3 p.m. at his downtown Hammond courtroom.