Lake County Sheriff's Department and jail

The Lake County Sheriff's Department and jail in Crown Point.

Voters have no direct say in who will fill the Lake County sheriff's office for the remainder of disgraced former Sheriff John Buncich's term, but they still should be informed.

A new chapter in the county's top law enforcement office is thrust on us courtesy of Buncich's recent felony bribery conviction in Hammond federal court.

The felony conviction immediately removed Buncich from office, leaving his political party, under state law, to select a successor.

On Sept. 16, the Lake County Democratic precinct committee members will caucus to select a candidate to serve the remainder of Buncich's elected term, which expires after 2018.

Voters won't get the chance to elect a sheriff in popular election until the May 2018 primary and November 2018 general election.

But that doesn't mean the county's voters shouldn't be reaching out to Democratic precinct leaders regarding their preferences.

Meanwhile, those Democratic precinct leaders have a duty to consider the gravity of the upcoming sheriff's caucus decision.

The men and women who are asked to risk their lives as officers of the sheriff's department need a strong, ethical leader in the wake of Buncich's disgraceful conviction.

It's unfortunate that the next sheriff selection will be entirely political — and out of the direct hands of voters.

Lake County's Democratic precinct committee members have a duty to consider what their voters want and need — a sheriff who won't play politics and will restore public faith in the office.

In today's Forum section at nwi.com/opinion, we offer guest columns from seven of the eight sheriff's caucus candidates who submitted the invited commentaries as of deadline.

Voters can read and consider the columns as a potential dress rehearsal for the 2018 elections. Precinct members should carefully consider the columns as well.

Much is at stake. We all must be informed.

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