CROWN POINT | The crowd outside the Lake County elections board has been larger, but for those who attended the closing of the candidate filing period, the thrill was still there.
"This last-minute stuff just tickles me," County Councilman Eldon Strong, R-Crown Point, said with a laugh. Strong is among nearly 30 county, township and municipal officials who were waiting for someone to file against them, but will run unopposed in their May 6 primaries.
More than 20 people waited for the last day to enter the election cycle, like John Ramos Jr., a Republican candidate for county sheriff.
Ramos, a 24-year veteran of the East Chicago police said, "I've been looking to expand my career in public service and while I was at work yesterday, one of the guys said, 'John, why don't you run for sheriff. Tomorrow's the last day to file.
"I'd never run for political office so as I'm walking through the government center and I found out where to file because I saw a bunch of people standing in a hallway and waiting to see if they could run for office unopposed," Ramos said.
Several elected officials picked up last-minute opponents Friday.
East Chicago City Councilman Juda S. Parks and Alberto "Beto" Ochoa Sr. filed their challenge to County Councilwoman Christine Cid in the final hour. County Clerk Mike Brown was running unopposed for re-election until Democrat Josefina Magallanes entered the fray Friday.
County Treasurer John Petalas, who is running for county auditor, also picked up a last-minute opponent, Andrew Sylwestrowicz.
Petalas reacted to that with this Facebook posting, "So today I learned another lesson in my life. A guy who I thought was my friend filed against me. And I found out that some others who pretended to be my friend knew about it. I even invited these people including my opponent to my party tonight. Imagine that. Well I learned a lesson, now it's time to teach one."
Dave Uzelac, a former Merrillville town councilman, is a candidate for the Hanover Township Board and back in politics after a six-year court-enforced hiatus.
Uzelac served as a Merrillville town councilman from 1998 to 2008 when a judge ruled he was ineligible to hold public office because of his guilty plea to the 1984 theft conviction, later reduced to a misdemeanor.
"I got that expunged under the new state law," Uzelac said.