CROWN POINT | Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., the Democratic county chairman, have become estranged over the county income tax.
Scheub resigned from the Democratic Governing Board, an inner circle of Democratic Party leaders McDermott formed four years ago, in the wake of Lake County officials adopting a 1.5 percent tax on the personal income of county residents and workers.
The Lake County Council approved the tax by a 4-3 vote May 6 and moved it to the Board of Commissioners, where Scheub moved to veto the tax. However, Scheub's his fellow commissioners, Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, and Mike Repay, D-Hammond, refused to support the motion to veto. The tax will be collected beginning Oct. 1.
Scheub opposed the tax as a burden on working men and women.
"Democrats are the party of the people, and I don't think we did the people very good on this," he said.
McDermott lobbied for the income tax's approval to replace $7 million in lost property tax revenue for his city.
"Gerry's resigning is unfortunate," McDermott said. "You can feel the way you do about a tax issue, but when you start campaigning with Republicans and making fellow Democrats look like the bad guys, that is where you have to draw the line. He was unhappy that I confronted him with that at a Democratic Governing Board meeting."
In the runup to the tax vote, Scheub appeared April 29 with Kim Krull, the former Republican county chairwoman, at an anti-tax rally at the Lake County Fairgrounds, which Scheub oversees as commissioner.
McDermott said, "I've always supported Gerry Scheub 100 percent. The thing that got me was when I saw him campaigning alongside Kim Krull; it broke my heart and a lot of Democratic hearts."
Scheub said of his resignation, "I just felt at this time, they and I would be better off if we not have any confrontations. You have to be able to agree or disagree without making it personal, and I think it got a little bit away from people. My position for the last seven years has been very firm, and if that isn't respected, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to change it."