CROWN POINT | The 2014 Lake County spring primary became a little less crowded Monday after two potential Democratic candidates pulled their names from the ballot.
The withdrawal by Andrew Sylwestrowicz, of Merrillville, leaves Lake County Treasurer John Petalas as the only candidate for county auditor.
Carlos Tolliver got out of the race for Lake County Council 2nd District, leaving incumbent Councilwoman Elsie Franklin and her remaining challengers: Carol Ann Seaton, Andrew Ledbetter and Acrella L. Moxley, all of Gary.
Voters still have 116 Democrats and 73 Republicans on the May 6 ballot, most of whom will face off within their parties' primary contests to win nomination for the fall general election.
Petalas had expressed dismay Friday after learning Sylwestrowicz had filed against him for auditor. The two men had once served together in Merrillville town government, and Petalas said Friday he felt betrayed by the last-minute challenge.
Both Petalas and Sylwestrowicz said Monday that mutual friends mediated between them.
"I had a change of heart over the weekendm," Sylwestrowicz said.
"I'm glad they extended the (withdrawal deadline), because I had time to think about it. Friends on both sides, John's friends and mine, too, called me up and I thought, 'I like John. We've been through a lot in politics. I don't want to give him a heart attack, and I don't want one. I'm 73 years old. So I called him up, apologized, and I'm dropping out,'" Sylwestrowicz said.
Sylwestrowicz said he initially filed for auditor because he wanted to pursue landlords who avoid property taxes by claiming rental property as their homestead. He said he spoke with Petalas about the issue and is satisfied everything is being done to stop the practice.
Tolliver said Monday he had decided on the spur of the moment late last week to run for County Council to stop any possibility Lake would adopt a business tax break Gov. Mike Pence supports. On later reflection, he decided to withdraw because he would have trouble raising enough campaign funds to challenge the incumbent Franklin.
One Republican's candidacy for the Hanover Township Board remains up in the air.
George Vukomirovich, of Cedar Lake, said he went to the election board staff minutes before the noon deadline Friday.
"I got myself signed up and thought everything was 100 percent. I left and then I got a call saying there was a mistake made," Vukomirovich said.
Election board records list him a candidate for Cedar Lake Township Board, a confusion between the town of Cedar Lake and the larger political subdivision of Hanover Township, which coincides with the western half of Cedar Lake.
Vukomirovich said he has been told he now needs to petition the Lake County election board, a bipartisan panel that oversees elections, for permission to run.