State Rep. Charlie Brown and Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington

Rep. Charlie Brown and Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington.

A veteran Gary legislator, who is leaving the Indiana General Assembly next year, said Tuesday he wants to continue his public service in county government.

Indiana Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, confirmed Tuesday that he intends to seek the 3rd District Lake County Council seat currently held by Jamal Washington, D-Merrillville, in 2018.

Brown is opening his campaign with an attack on Washington.

“Citizens of the 3rd District haven’t received the kind of integrity and leadership they deserve in recent years,” Brown said. “I don’t feel the person currently occupying that office has provided it. We can’t afford to have that kind of representation on the County Council."

Washington announced last month he intends to vacate his council seat and run next year for the countywide office of clerk of the Lake Circuit and Superior Courts.

Brown said he isn’t buying it.

Brown said he couldn’t see how Washington would think he could succeed at winning the clerk of court office given his guilty plea late last year to battering his wife.

The two sparred verbally in January when Brown called on Washington to resign from the council. Washington responded that Brown also had trouble with the law in 2002 when a jury convicted him for obstructing traffic when Brown challenged a police officer who had stopped state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, over a traffic matter.

Washington said, "I fully expect to be our next county clerk. I wish Charlie Brown luck in his endeavors."

Washington said his accomplishments as a county councilman in the last three years include encouraging minority businesses to become county government vendors, providing county assistance to the Gary Public Transportation Corp., creating a county government human resources department, putting council meetings on Facebook Live and investigating cost overruns in the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

"My accomplishments in my three years on the council speak for themselves. What has Charlie Brown accomplished?" Washington said.

Brown, 79, who has held his Indiana House seat since 1982, said earlier this week his legislative tenure should be remembered not only for his fight to pass a statewide indoor smoking ban, but also extending health coverage to thousands of low-income Hoosiers and his work to establish the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which has funneled money into Gary-Chicago International Airport improvements and expansion of commuter rail access to Chicago.

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Lake County reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.