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Lake County Commissioner Kyle Allen tops challenger Jamal Washington
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Lake County Commissioner Kyle Allen tops challenger Jamal Washington

From the ICYMI: The Times' coverage from primary night in Northwest Indiana series

CROWN POINT — Lake Commissioner Kyle Allen, D-Gary, appears to have beaten back the challenge of County Councilman Jamal Washington by a significant margin in Tuesday's primary election, with a majority of precincts reporting results.

An unofficial tally of Tuesday's vote gave Allen a commanding lead in his first popular election since a caucus of 144 Democratic precinct committee members picked Allen two years ago to serve as one of county government's top three executives following the death of his cousin, Roosevelt Allen, in office.

Allen will face Republican Douglas M. "Doug" Wright in the Nov. 6 general election to represent Gary, Hobart, Lake Station, Merrillville, New Chicago and parts of northern Crown Point.

Allen, who served on the Gary City Council from 2000 to 2016, used his two years on the Board of Commissioners to consolidate his position within the Democratic party hierarchy.

He won endorsements from the Gary, Hobart, Lake Station and Merrillville Democratic primary organizations and raised more than five times the contributions his opponent could muster.

Washington, who has served as 3rd District county councilman since his election in 2014, announced last year he wouldn't seek re-election to the fiscal body. His council district includes parts of Gary, Griffith, Lake Station, Merrillville and Schererville.

After considering a run for county clerk, Washington chose to take on Allen, who had yet to by tested in a popular election for his county commissioner seat.

Washington touted his activist role on the county council, saying he helped win funding for the sheriff to assist Gary police during a rise in homicides, demolish a derelict grocery store and rehabilitate the park in Gary's Glen Park section.

Allen countered that all those projects were the result of cooperation among county officials, not Washington's solo effort.

Allen said he worked with other county officials to free up county money for future improvements to Hobart's Third Street bridge across Lake George.

Washington's campaign was hobbled by his personal problems.

Merrillville police arrested Washington Dec. 3, 2015, for the assault of his wife and a female employee and again Dec. 8, 2017, for a dispute with his 23-year-old cousin.

Washington pleaded guilty in 2016 to hurting his wife. He has pleaded not guilty and is denying the latest charges.

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