HAMMOND | North Township board member Richard J. Novak is challenging his 74-vote loss to Councilman Michael Repay in the Democratic primary race for the 3rd District Lake County commissioner seat.
Lake County Elections Director Sally LaSota said Monday morning her office received an order from Lake Circuit Court Judge George Paras impounding voting records in anticipation of a recount.
The official election results show Repay with 4,347 votes and Novak with 4,273.
Hammond lawyer Justin Murphy, who filed the litigation Monday, said he is asking not only for a vote recount, but also a more general challenge of how the election was conducted.
"Mr. Novak has received some calls questioning whether voting practices were legal. He believes he owes it to the people to review those allegations, so we also filed a contest," Murphy said.
Novak said Monday he has been encouraged by his supporters to not give up. "People are just pushing me to go for it. We are going to go through the machines and the absentee ballots to make sure the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted and things are right. Then we'll know after all our hard work whether it was straight up or not."
He said he will hold a fundraiser to help pay the costs. At this point we are at $6,000, and I'm sure it will be higher," Novak said.
Repay said Monday, "I'm pretty confident in the election process generally. I've been part of a couple of recounts in my lifetime, so I'm pretty comfortable going into this recount with a 74-vote margin that I will come out of it with the same vote count.
The judge has scheduled a hearing 1:30 p.m. May 29 on the matter.
The winner of the Democratic race will face Mark Leyva, of Highland, who defeated Dyer Town Councilwoman Debbie Astor in the Republican primary.
The 3rd District commissioner is one of the top three executive officials in county government with the authority to hire, fire and approve contracts. The newly drawn 3rd District contains the communities of Whiting, Hammond, Munster, Highland, Dyer and parts of East Chicago and St. John.