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Old Facebook post triggers claim of racial bias in Portage mayoral race
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Old Facebook post triggers claim of racial bias in Portage mayoral race

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PORTAGE — Spurred by allegedly racist comments recently directed at two Hammond City Council candidates, the Porter County Republican Party is accusing the Democratic candidate for Portage mayor of making a "racially biased" remark four years ago.

Michael Simpson, Porter County GOP chairman, issued a statement Tuesday condemning mayoral candidate Sue Lynch, the current Portage City Council president, for what Simpson described as a "deplorable" and "insensitive" statement she posted in 2015 in a public Facebook conversation with a former neighbor.

In the post, Lynch says: "Yes, the sheets are still on the windows and now they have a black person there. Not sure if he lives there or just spends a lot of time there. He walks by the house during the day and it makes me nervous."

Simpson said such rhetoric "has no place in Portage, Porter County or anywhere in America for that matter."

He also wondered "if Lynch is willing to make these comments publicly, what does she say and believe privately?"

In response, Lynch described Simpson's allegations as "ridiculous" and "dirty politics" by "a desperate bunch of people."

"It's really not an issue. I was just describing a person that walked by my house," Lynch said. "I think they're race baiting and I'm not going to fall into their trap."

"Everyone that knows me knows that's not true about me. I've worked in the environmental movement for 30 years, worked in low-income minority communities and dedicated my life to justice issues."

Mayor John Cannon, Lynch's Republican opponent, said he agreed with Simpson's statement and called on Lynch to apologize.

Though, when directly asked, Cannon declined to describe Lynch's remarks as "racist."

"I believe it was inappropriate, not who Portage is, not what Portage represents, and I don't believe the council president or a mayoral candidate, or future mayoral candidate, should say things like that," Cannon said.

"We just finished up eight years with an African American president and that person was the president at the time this comment was made. We've come a long way, and I don't think we need that kind of mentality, especially in a public forum."

The Portage kerfuffle comes one week after the chairman of the Lake County Libertarian Party resigned after using the term "gang bangers" to describe two black Democratic candidates who are expected to be elected next week to the Hammond City Council.

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