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Richard Ligon and Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr.

Richard Ligon and Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr.

GARY — Richard Ligon is opening his campaign for Lake County sheriff Saturday.

Ligon is inviting the public to a grand opening of his political headquarters from noon to 3 p.m. at 2100 W. 11th Ave. Refreshments and door prizes will be provided.

Ligon, 69, of Gary will make his third run for the office of Lake County's top cop with a background of 36 years of military service. He was a federal law enforcement agent for 23 years. He also has served as a Gary police commissioner, an Indiana parole agent and a juvenile probation officer and supervisor.

He will challenge Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. in the May 8, 2018, spring primary.

The race for sheriff was supposed to be wide open since former Sheriff John Buncich couldn't run next year because of the state's term limits.

However, a U.S. District Court jury prematurely deposed Buncich from office Aug. 24 when they found him guilty of public corruption charges that he accepted bribes from two towing firms doing business with the sheriff's department. He was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday but a federal judge on Thursday granted a delay of several weeks.

Martinez and Ligon were among nine candidates to apply to a caucus of Lake County Democratic party precinct committee members held Sept. 16 to replace Buncich.

Martinez, who had twice run for sheriff and twice finished behind Buncich and Ligon, won a majority of the approximately 400 political activists' votes and the right to complete the remaining 13 months of Buncich's unexpired term.

Martinez now will run as the incumbent sheriff for the chance to with the public's mandate for a full four-year term.

Ligon said Wednesday he was unfazed by Martinez's popularity among party insiders and expects victory when he goes before the voting public next spring.

Others who have said they are mulling a run for sheriff in spring include Schererville Police Chief David Dowling, who came in second in the caucus vote, and Daniel Murchek, a deputy commander in the sheriff's department who previously was third-in-command of the county police force.

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Lake County reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.