CROWN POINT — Lake County Democrats chose Oscar Martinez Jr. on Saturday as the new Lake County sheriff.

County precinct committee members selected Martinez, a longtime Lake County sheriff's officer who forged a reputation for big drug-related arrests, after three ballots.

He won with 223 votes. Schererville Police Chief David Dowling came in second with 170 votes.

Democrats chose Martinez from among nine fellow Democrats seeking to finish the uncompleted term of former sheriff John Buncich.

A U.S. District Court jury convicted Buncich last month of federal bribery and fraud charges that he accepted kickbacks from towing truck firms seeking county work.

Martinez, a county policeman since 1993, said his first job is to raise morale, which he said is low following the bribery scandal, of department employees.

"That will be done by my leading by example. I intend to do that. I look forward to taking over the department and working with the community," he said.

The caucus chose not to hear any speeches from the mix of active and retired police officers and civilians before voting.