George Janiec ran for mayor four years ago as a Republican in Democratic-leaning Hammond, Indiana. He lost by less than 500 votes to the current mayor, Tom McDermott, a Democrat.
Janiec wants to run against McDermott once again. But to do that he needs to win the GOP’s primary, which will be held in May.
But Janiec may not be able to go up against McDermott after all. Lake County’s election board Monday voted in favor of removing Janiec’s name from the GOP primary’s ballot.
The partisan board’s Democratic majority said Janiec shouldn’t be allowed to run because he already serves on the city’s non-partisan school board. The Democrats said if Janiec wants to be included on the ballot, he must first resign from the school board. Janiec contends he shouldn’t have to do that.
“Why should I have to when there is no state statute that I’ve violated or any laws that I’ve broken,” Janiec says. “Obviously I’m a significant threat to the incumbent mayor.
Janiec says he plans to hire an attorney to help him fight the election board’s decision. He also wants the U.S. Attorney’s office in Hammond to investigate.
Janiec says McDermott has too much influence on the election board since he is also the Democratic party chair for Lake County. The party chair can appoint members to the elections board.
McDermott has appointed one member since taking over as chairman two years ago. He told the Times of Northwest Indiana he supports the board’s decision.