Indiana Supreme Court puts Janiec back on primary ballot

2011-04-21T17:00:00Z 2011-04-28T15:55:09Z Indiana Supreme Court puts Janiec back on primary ballotBy Pete Nickeas, (219) 933-4183

The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday put Hammond mayoral hopeful George Janiec back on the May 3 primary ballot.

"The Board shall reprogram the voting machines being used for the May 3, 2011, Republican primary election to include Janiec's candidacy for the office of Mayor of Hammond," the court's decision read.

The high court states its ruling doesn't invalidate the more than 3,200 absentee ballots already cast. The court ordered the elections board and Janiec to work out a way to alert voters who have received, but haven't yet cast and mailed back absentee ballots.

Janiec's name will appear early next week on voting machines at the elections board office and five satellite voting locations in Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Crown Point, Winfield and St. John.

"This puts me back on the ballot, but what it does for the citizens and voters of Hammond is, it brings back the constitutional rights and civil liberties, where they will be the ones to decide who their candidates will be in the general election for mayor," Janiec said.

Schererville attorney R. Cordell Funk, who represents Janiec, said Thursday he was pleased with the high court's speedy resolution of the monthlong election dispute.

"We are relieved they ruled as quickly as they could, one day after the elections board filed their brief. The justices just said you can't make up law and can't use ethics to kick him off," Funk said.

Janiec, among six Republican candidates running in the primary, said he will continue campaigning as if none of this happened.

"The game is on. I will get a chance to see (Mayor Thomas) McDermott in November," he said.

McDermott said he disagreed with, but respected, the court's decision.

"I respect rule of law, and that's the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court speaks, you listen," he said.

Janiec came within 500 votes of unseating McDermott in the 2007 election, and McDermott acknowledged that Janiec presented the most serious threat to his candidacy earlier this year.

McDermott said Janiec showed a lack of respect for his opponents by glossing over the Republican primary and saying he would square off against him in November.

"Right now he's running against field of Republicans that want to beat him," McDermott said. "He obviously has no respect whatsoever for his opponents. That's not a good way to approach politics. You always respect your opponents, regardless of whether you think you can beat them or not." 

The Lake County elections board removed Janiec from the ballot earlier this year. The board said the reason was he is seeking the Republican mayoral nod from his nonpartisan position as a School City of Hammond trustee.

Dawn Tomich, a mayoral appointee to the College Bound Exceptions Committee, challenged Janiec's candidacy.

No law exists preventing Janiec from seeking office, but the elections board ruled against him.

Janiec's attorneys appealed to Lake County Superior Court, which refused to overturn the board's decision.

Janiec's attorney's argued to the state appeals court and state Supreme Court that the May 3 primary results should be tossed out if Janiec isn't included on the ballot.

Times staff writer Bill Dolan contributed to this report.

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