A majority of Northwest Indiana political candidates this fall said they support the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission's goal for public officials and employees to get ethics training.
Calvin Bellamy, commission president, said all eight Lake County candidates on the Tuesday ballot recently pledged to provide training at least once every two years for themselves and government employees who would work in their department, if they are elected.
Bellamy said 16 of 26 candidates in LaPorte County and 14 out of 16 Porter County candidates took the same pledge.
The commission doesn't request judicial candidates to take the pledge since they and their employees are held to standards set by the Indiana Supreme Court.
"It's catching on. We are getting a larger percentage in all three counties. The biggest change is in LaPorte County. We are least known there, but we are starting to increase our numbers there, too.
Bellamy said the ethics pledge is becoming a badge of honor for many politicians.
"I've even had calls from candidates from the last election, wondering why their name wasn't mentioned. I think (voters), to some extent, talk about this.
"We have some detractors. Some public officials think its pressuring them. I don't know why it's bad to tell the public that a candidate is willing to provide ethics training for his or her employees," Bellamy said.
Bellamy said this reflects the growth in the last two years in the number of local government agencies that have joined the Shared Ethics Commission and begun the training.
The commission now provides training to county government employees in Lake, LaPorte and Porter counties as well as municipal employees for: Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hobart, Lake Station, Valparaiso, and Whiting, Towns: Burns Harbor, Cedar Lake, Chesterton, Dyer, Hebron, Highland, Lake Station, Lowell, Merrillville, Munster, Ogden Dunes, Schererville and Westville.
"We don't have every city, but I have to think that everything we do that raises the visibility of our activities helps that growth, including these pledges. We need to keep doing this because we need their continuing support.," Bellamy said.
Lake County Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr., who is running unopposed for re-election, said, "I think it's important all elected officials and public employees get continuous ethics training. It's an ongoing learning experience. You need a refresher over time."