McDermott prepares for four more years at helm of Democratic Party

2013-02-20T19:15:00Z 2014-02-26T17:47:09Z McDermott prepares for four more years at helm of Democratic PartyBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
February 20, 2013 7:15 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. can comfortably settle in for four more years as Lake County Democratic party boss.

"I'm a happy person right now. The deadline to file for chairman came at 10 a.m. (Wednesday) and nobody else filed," McDermott said.

He said it appears unlikely a caucus of the party's more than 500 precinct committeemen will be needed March 2 to elect him chairman, Peggy Katona as the party's vice chairwoman, Sheriff John Buncich as secretary and Commissioner Roosevelt Allen as treasurer.

"The sheriff is helping bring credibility to our ticket. Obviously, we wanted to have Gary on the ticket. I can't think of a better person than Commissioner Allen for that. Peggy Katona has been the party treasurer for years and now she is moving up.

"I think it speaks volumes about how we are all working together. Every chairman's race since I've been around has been a disaster," he said.

The last uncontested race for party chairman was in 1997 when precinct committeemen elected the late Stephen R. Stiglich by acclamation following former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick's decision to step down after 25 years in that job.

Before then, Pastrick and Stiglich waged epic battles for control of the Democratic Party. Pastrick purged many in the party's middle leadership two decades ago in what some said was punishment of Stiglich supporters.

McDermott, 43, first won the job four years ago by wresting it from then-party Chairman Rudy Clay.

McDermott was a Republican until he received dispensation from Stiglich to switch parties 11 years ago to run for mayor.

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