Hammond mayoral ballot issue heats up

March 29, 2011

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A would-be candidate for mayor in Hammond, Indiana, will continue to spend precious time fighting to stay on the ballot.

George Janiec had been booted off the ballot in Hammond’s GOP mayoral primary. And he’s under serious time pressure - the race is in five weeks but early voting begins Monday.

So, Janiec was hoping a Lake County, Indiana judge would look at the facts of the case and place him back on today. But on Tuesday, Lake Superior Court Judge Jesse Villalpando says he’ll need until the end of the week to make a decision.

Villalpando called an emergency meeting Monday to settle a dispute between the parties. The dispute was settled but that won’t mean an earlier decision by Villalpando who has acknowledge, “time is of the essence,” since next month starts early voting with the actual primary on May 3rd.

That’s welcome news to Janiec’s likely Democratic opponent - Hammond’s incumbent Mayor, Tom McDermott Jr.

“I think I can beat George Janiec if he’s lucky enough to get back on the ballot. I’m not afraid of him,” McDermott said.  “But if he’s on the ballot, I’ll take it to him but right now, there’s no guarantee he’s even going to be on the ballot.”

McDermott beat Janiec in a close general election four years ago winning by a mere 500 votes.

The Lake County Election and Voters Registration Board removed Janiec from the primary ballot in early March, saying he is ineligible to run in a partisan race because he sits on a non-partisan school board.

Janiec says there is no state law prohibiting him running in a partisan election while holding a nonpartisan seat.