HAMMOND — Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is urging state election officials to postpone Indiana's May 5 primary elections for one month to prevent the spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The five-term leader of Lake County's most populous city, and a candidate for the Region's Democratic U.S. House nomination, said Wednesday, "The health and safety of both voters and election workers has to be the most important factor as our state leaders consider what to do about Election Day.
"For that reason, I am urging Secretary of State (Connie) Lawson and the Indiana Election Commission to move Election Day at least 30 days, to early June," McDermott said.
"This will allow poll workers and voters to have faith that making a choice to exercise their right to vote will not at the same time be risking their health and safety."
Valerie Warycha, communications director for the secretary of state's office, declined to specifically respond to McDermott's suggestion, or say whether a plan to move the Democratic and Republican primary elections is under consideration.
"At this point, all I can say is I'll be in touch when I have information to share," Warycha said.
Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, a Democrat also running to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, agreed with McDermott that the primary election should be postponed.
"In the coming days, our focus as a community should be on stopping the spread of this virus and supporting our neighbors in need," Harper said.
"Conducting a robust election in this environment would be difficult or impossible. The election can wait, and state leaders should delay it until summer."
On the other hand, state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, another 1st District congressional candidate, said she sees no reason to postpone the May 5 elections, since it only will cause more uncertainty in a time already filled with it.
"This global pandemic has led to uncertain times, and all of us Americans have to work together to get through it," Candelaria Reardon said.
"But one thing that will not help — and in fact be detrimental to our state and country — is sowing added uncertainty into our lives."
Candelaria Reardon said democracy depends on leaders providing "real solutions" during challenging times, "not delays and indecision."
To that end, she's calling on state election officials to maintain the May 5 primary date, but switch to a 100% mail-in ballot — to "ensure public safety" and "protect the right to free and fair elections."
Gary attorney and Democratic congressional candidate Sabrina Haake said she expects election authorities will announce Friday that Indiana is relaxing its requirements for voting by mail.
"In lieu of that, I would agree that a four-week extension would be appropriate," Haake said.
"People are — understandably — more concerned with COVID-19 than elections at the moment anyway. I'm focused on what Washington is going to do to provide more test kits and broader financial relief than what the Senate just passed."
Meanwhile, Democratic North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan, who also is running for Congress, doesn't think there's enough information available for the state to make a decision about moving Election Day.
"We have a pandemic on our hands, and right now we should be focusing all of our efforts on helping people and our communities get through this together," Mrvan said.
If the state is going to postpone or change the format of the upcoming election, officials may want to finalize their plans no later than Friday.
Otherwise, the election boards in Lake and Porter counties are required, starting Saturday, to begin sending absentee ballots to voters who previously submitted a vote-by-mail request.
Take a virtual tour of Indiana's 25 state parks
Gallery: Take a virtual tour of Indiana's state parks
Brown County State Park
Location: Nashville Size: 15,776 acres (largest state park) Opened: 1929 Activities: 12 hiking trails spanning 18 miles; 25 mi. of mountain biking trails; 20 horseback riding trails; hiking; birdwatching; fishing; leafing; cross-county skiing; sledding; ice fishing Amenities: Abe Martin Lodge and annex, 84 rooms with water park; 86 cabins; modern and primitive campgrounds
DNR description: Nicknamed the "Little Smokies" because of the area's resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County encompasses nearly 16,000 acres of rugged hills, ridges and fog-shrouded ravines. Glaciers from the most recent ice ages stopped short of the "hills o' Brown," but their meltwaters helped create the narrow ridges, steep slopes and deep gullies of Brown County State Park. Indiana's largest park is a traditional fall color hot spot, with nearly 20 miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland.
Chain O' Lakes State Park
Location: Albion Size: 2,718 acres Opened: 1960 Activities: 13 lakes for boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming; hiking Amenities: Stanley Schoolhouse Nature Center; boat rental; furnished cabins; primitive campsites
DNR description: This is lake country and a small boater's paradise. Nine connecting lakes will be the center of your adventures at Chain O'Lakes. Paddle through the chain of serene kettle lakes, hike the 10 miles of forested trails, fish the electric-motors-only lakes, stay overnight in a forested hillside family cabin, or visit the park's old one-room schoolhouse nature center. Other facilities available for visitors to enjoy include a campground, beach and picnic shelters.
Charlestown State Park
Location: Charlestown Size: 5,100 acres Opened: 1996 Activities: Hiking; Fishing; Picnicking; Camping; Birdwatching Amenities: 182 modern and primitive campsites
DNR description: Once a largely undeveloped portion of the Indiana Army Ammunition plant, Charlestown State Park is located in southern Indiana. With scenic vistas of the Fourteenmile Creek valley and the Ohio River and elevation changes of over 200 feet, Charlestown has much to offer the visitor with its rugged hills and deep ravines. While hiking the rugged terrain you will see Devonian fossil outcrops and areas of karst sinkhole topography. Bird watchers will enjoy the 72 species of birds, including bluebirds, black vultures and an occasional bald eagle.
Clifty Falls State Park
Location: Madison Size: 1,416 acres Opened: 1920 Activities: Four waterfalls; hiking; swimming; picnicking; tennis Amenities: Clifty Inn and Restaurant; nature center
DNR description: The park's waterfalls change moods with the weather and the seasons and can range from roaring plunges to delicate bridal-veil mists to gleaming frozen titans. Winter and spring visits reveal them at their best. The rugged splendor of Clifty Canyon offers exciting year-round hiking and scenery.
Falls of the Ohio State Park
Location: Clarksville Size: 165 acres Opened: 1990 Activities: Hiking; fishing; picnicking; boat launch Amenities: Interpretative Center
DNR description: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met at the Falls prior to launching the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean. The park's 386-million-year-old fossil beds are among the largest exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world. The park features a spectacular interpretive center overlooking the fossil beds that reopened in 2016 with completely new exhibits.
Fort Harrison State Park
Location: Indianapolis Size: 1,700 acres Opened: 1996 Activities: Hiking; bicycle trails; golf; fishing; canoeing; dog park; sledding; ice fishing; cross country skiing; recreation buildings; horseback riding Amenities: 18-hole golf course; inn; restaurant; saddle barn; nature shop; Museum of 20th Century Warfare
DNR description: Landscape and history blend together at this unique setting on the northeast side of Indianapolis. The 1,700-acre park — comprising a portion of the former Fort Benjamin Harrison military base — features walking and jogging trails, picnic sites, fishing access to Fall Creek and two national historic districts. An oasis of green in an urban landscape, Fort Harrison is one of the hidden gems to be found in the state, just minutes from home for many visitors needing contact with nature.
Harmonie State Park
Location: New Harmony Size: 3,465 acres Opened: 1996 Activities: Hiking; bicycle trails; horseback riding; boat launch; fishing; picnicking; swimming Amenities: 200 modern campsites; youth tent campsites
DNR description: Harmonie State Park is located "on the banks of the Wabash" and a beautiful swimming pool, shady picnic areas, ravines and pristine landscape await you here. Trails for walking, biking and nature hikes will lure you for a visit. Nearby Historic New Harmony honors two unique communities from the early 1800s. The Rappites located here in 1814. They were fleeing from religious persecution and awaiting the impending millennium. In 1824, the Owenites brought many great scientists and philosophers into the area when they purchased the Rappites' holdings.
Lincoln State Park
Location: Lincoln City Size: 1,747 acres Opened: 1932 Activities: Historic sites; hiking; boat launch; picnicking; swimming; fishing Amenities: Nature center; general store; boat rental; cabins; campsites
DNR description: Discover the boyhood home of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Among the rolling hills and thick forest, young Lincoln learned many life lessons. Lincoln State Park offers 10 miles of hiking trails, two scenic lakes, and an interpretive center to help you experience early life of settlers in southern Indiana. Tour the Colonel Jones Home, the historic home of the merchant and Civil War officer who employed young Lincoln. The Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church and Cemetery, located on the property, is where Lincoln’s sister Sarah is buried. Sarah Lincoln Woods Nature Preserve is located in the southernmost portion of the park. A visit to Lincoln State Park is like taking a step back in time to when the land was wild and Lincoln was a boy.
McCormick's Creek State Park
Location: Spencer Size: 1,924 acres Opened: 1916 (oldest state park) Activities: Hiking; horseback riding; swimming; recreation center; tennis; picnicking; caving Amenities: Canyon Inn; nature center; saddle barn; cabins; 221 modern and primitive campsites; youth tent camping; camp store
DNR description: Explore the spectacular limestone canyon, flowing creek, and scenic waterfalls that highlight Indiana’s first state park. Hike trails featuring diverse forest trees, spicebush, and native wildflowers, including a trail through Wolf Cave Nature Preserve and an accessible trail at the recently renovated nature center. Experience history as you climb the fire tower, use shelter houses or cross the stone arch bridge created by the Civilian Conservation Corps, or examine the historic Statehouse Quarry near White River, which furnished limestone used for the Indianapolis Statehouse. Relax in the lobby of Canyon Inn, open to all park visitors, or watch birds from the dining room porch. Catch cultural events such as concerts in the park amphitheater or attend the several special events hosted annually at the park. McCormick’s Creek State Park offers active enjoyment through all seasons of the year.
Mounds State Park
Location: Anderson Size: 252 acres Opened: 1930 Activities: Historic sites; hiking; fishing; swimming; picnicking Amenities: Nature center; gift shop; 75 modern campsites; youth tent camping; camp store
DNR description: Mounds State Park features 10 unique earthworks built by prehistoric Indians known as the Adena-Hopewell people. The largest earthwork, the Great Mound, is believed to have been constructed around 160 B.C. Archaeological surveys indicate the mounds were used as gathering places for religious ceremonies, from where astronomical alignments could be viewed. Naturalist-led hikes and interpretive programs are offered every weekend throughout the year.
O'Bannon Woods State Park
Location: Corydon Size: 2,000 acres Opened: 2004 Activities: Swimming; water slides; hiking; horseback riding; picnicking; fishing; boating; Amenities: Aquatic center; nature center; cabins; 353 modern and primitive campsites
DNR description: O'Bannon Woods State Park (formerly Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area) lies in the central and extreme southern part of the state, bordering the Ohio River. It was the location of one of the few African-American Civilian Conservation Corps units. The property also has a uniquely restored, working haypress barn, complete with oxen for power and a pioneer farmstead. Indiana’s first natural and scenic river, Blue River, flows through the state park and forest. The Corydon Capitol State Historic Site is located near the park. Visitors can learn about early Indiana history as they tour the beautiful first state capitol building, built entirely of limestone, and old town square.
Ouabache State Park
Location: Bluffton Size: 1,104 acres Opened: 1962 Activities: Hiking; swimming; fishing; boating; volleyball; paved bicycle trail; tennis; basketball courts; picnicking Amenities: Nature center; recreation center; campsites
DNR description: Ouabache is difficult to spell, but easy to pronounce. Simply say "Wabash"...just like the river that forms the southwest boundary for the park. This is the French spelling of an Indian word, so don't be surprised to hear some folks call it o-ba-chee. Kunkel Lake offers excellent fishing. During the summer months, a naturalist provides information about the natural wonders of the park. A lodge recreation building is available all year.
Pokagon State Park
Location: Angola Size: 1,260 acres Opened: 1925 Activities: Hiking; swimming; cross country skiing; tobogganing; horseback riding; picnicking; playground; sand volleyball Amenities: Potawatomi Inn; nature center; toboggan run; boat rental; saddle barn; 273 modern and primitive campsites; youth tent camping; camp store
DNR description: Being one of the state’s original parks, Pokagon features the unique work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, whose members lived and worked at Pokagon from 1934 to 1942. The “boys of the CCC” built the beautiful stone and log structures that dot the park landscape and provide accent to the rolling wooded hills, wetlands and open meadows. Natural lakes created by glaciers that melted 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, highlight Steuben County, which has more lakes than any other Indiana county. The park is framed by Lake James and Snow Lake, which offer abundant opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing and scenic sunsets. Pokagon is also Indiana State Parks’ winter wonderland, with cross-country ski rental, sledding, ice fishing and a twin-track toboggan run.
Potato Creek State Park
Location: North Liberty Size: 3,840 acres Opened: 1977 Activities: Biking; hiking; swimming; boating; fishing; ice fishing; cross-country skiing; wildlife observation; horseback riding; snow tubing Amenities: Nature center; 3.2 mile paved bike trail; 6.6 mi. mountain bike trail; recreation building; boat/bike rental; 17 cabins; 347 campsites; youth tent camping; camp store DNR description: Potato Creek is in north-central Indiana about 12 miles southwest of South Bend. The park features a wide array of activities and facilities for year-round enjoyment. A variety of natural habitats await, including the 327-acre Worster Lake, old fields, mature woodlands, restored prairies and diverse wetlands. Each offers unique opportunities for plant and wildlife observation. Native peoples used the area for hunting and fishing. The area’s first people of European descent settled here in the 1830s.
Prophetstown State Park
Location: Battle Ground Size: 2,000 acres Opened: 2004 (newest state park) Activities: Hiking; bicycling; camping; swimming Amenities: 2.75 mile hiking trail; 2.4 mile bike trail; aquatic center; 110 campsites
DNR description: Indiana’s newest state park, Prophetstown is located where the Tippecanoe River meets the Wabash near the town of Battle Ground northeast of Lafayette. The park's landscape has been shaped by ice from glaciers, moving water, fire and human hands that helped maintain the vast tall prairie grass. Native American people hunted and lived along the two rivers for thousands of years. The Aquatic Center features a 30-foot tube slide, body flume, lazy river float area, adventure channel, zero-entry pool with play features, and an aquatic activity area with basketball.
Shades State Park
Location: Waveland Size: 3,082 acres Opened: 1947 Activities: Hiking; fishing; picnicking; canoeing Amenities: Nature preserve; 123 campsites (Apr.-Oct.); youth tent camping
DNR description: Shades State Park is that peaceful place you've sought; a favorite for hikers and canoeists. The beautiful sandstone cliffs overlooking Sugar Creek and numerous shady ravines provide the backdrop for your journey through this nature lover's paradise. Also on the property is Pine Hills Nature Preserve, which affords spectacular topography for those willing to take a fairly long hike.
Shakamak State Park
Location: Jasonville Size: 1,766 acres Opened: 1929 Activities: Swimming; water sliding; boating; fishing; ice fishing; hiking; picnicking; basketball; tennis Amenities: Nature center; aquatic center; boat launch; cabins; recreation building; boat rental; 174 campsites; youth tent camping; camp store
DNR description: Ready to relax? Head for Shakamak. Three man-made lakes offer 400 acres of water for fishing and boating while a family aquatic center provides swimming fun. About two-thirds of the campsites are in a wooded area, offering cool shade in the summer and beautiful fall colors in autumn. Nearby is a play field area for family fun. A popular feature of the park is the group camp.
Spring Mill State Park
Location: Mitchell Size: 1,358 acres Opened: 1927 Activities: Historic sites; cave tours; hiking; biking; picnicking; swimming; hayrides Amenities: Spring Mill Inn; pioneer village; Gus Grissom memorial; boat tour; bike rental; 221 modern and primitive campsites; youth tent camping; camp store DNR description: Spring Mill State Park offers a powerful illustration of the link between the natural and cultural worlds. The water flowing from several cave springs led to the founding of an industrial village in the early 1800s. Pioneer entrepreneurs took advantage of a constant water source that never froze, using it to power several gristmills, a wool mill, a saw mill and a distillery. In turn, pioneer settlers shaped the landscape around the village, clearing land for agriculture and timber.
The park today continues to illustrate how nature shapes us and how we shape our environment. A parcel of virgin timber sits in contrast to regenerated forest, a man-made lake struggles to survive against the in-flow of silt from cave-fed systems and the native flora and fauna face challenges from man’s introduction of new species.
Visitors can explore this story in the park’s four interpretive facilities—the Pioneer Village, Nature Center, Grissom Memorial and Twin Caves Boat Tour—and see it reflected on the landscape as they hike the trails.
Summit Lake State Park
Location: New Castle Size: 2,680 acres Opened: 1988 Activities: Fishing; birdwatching; swimming; ice fishing; boating; hiking; cross-country skiing; picnicking Amenities: Boat launch; picnic shelters; boat rental; 73 campsites; youth tent camping
DNR description: An expansive view and good fishing beckon you to Summit Lake State Park, near New Castle. Summit Lake has an excellent bird watching and wildlife observation area. The property has always been an important area for waterfowl because of the many low-lying wet meadows and prairies. Migratory species have included rare species like the black tern, bald eagle, sandhill crane, American bittern, least bittern, king rail and osprey. Zeigler Woods, in the southwest corner of the park, is Henry County’s first nature preserve. Zeigler Woods has rich flora and fauna with little evidence of human disturbance.
Tippecanoe River State Park
Location: Winamac Size: 2,761 acres Opened: 1943 Activities: Canoeing; horseback riding; hiking; boating; fishing; picnicking; cross-country skiing Amenities: Recreation building; cabins; 178 modern and primitive campsites; youth tent camping
DNR description: Attention canoers! Get ready for a relaxing journey as you float down the beautiful Tippecanoe River. You must bring your own canoe or make arrangements with the local canoe livery. When you return, you can enjoy the beautiful campground facilities with your group, family or friends.
Turkey Run State Park
Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, tennis, playgrounds, cultural programs
Turkey Run Inn, nature center, planetarium, saddle barn, cabins, 213 campsites, youth tent camping, camp store
You’ll marvel at the natural geologic wonders of this beautiful park as you hike along its famous trails. Nestled along State Road 47 southwest of Crawfordsville, the park offers the chance to explore deep, sandstone ravines, walk along stands of aged forests and enjoy the scenic views along Sugar Creek. Make sure to visit the Colonel Richard Lieber Cabin, which commemorates the contributions of the father of Indiana’s state park system.
Versailles State Park
Location: Versailles Size: 5,988 acres Opened: 1943 Activities: Hiking; fishing; horseback riding; mountain biking; boating; swimming; picnicking; kayaking Amenities: Covered bridge; boat launch; boat rental; 226 modern campsites; youth tent camping; camp store
DNR description: Take a drive through the beautiful rolling hills of southeastern Indiana with Versailles State Park, Indiana’s second-largest state park, as your destination. Numerous fossils tell the story of an ancient sea that covered the region. During the Civil War, Morgan’s Raiders made their way through the area that is now the park. The town of Versailles was briefly under Confederate control. Relax while fishing on the 230-acre lake where you can rent a rowboat, kayak or canoe. Get a workout and see the beauty of the park by taking a walk on the hiking trails or a ride on the mountain bike trails. Bring your horses for the day to enjoy the more than 20 miles of horse trails. Steps to a scenic overlook at the dam are a prime spot to see herons and other aquatic wildlife.
White River State Park
Location: Indianapolis Size: 250 acres Opened: 1979 Activities: Museums; sports; concerts; theaters; zoo; hiking; Segway rides; historic canal; gardening; maze; picnicking; art Amenities: Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art; IMAX Theater; Indiana State Museum; Indianapolis Indians baseball at Victory Field; Indianapolis Zoo; White River Gardens; NCAA Hall of Champions; Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial; Indiana History Center; Central Canal; Military Park
Description: White River State Park boasts world-class attractions and destinations that offer distinctive experiences for every interest and visitor! Yes, you will find green spaces, trails, trees and waterways that you expect at any state park. In addition to nature’s wonderland, you will find cultural, educational, and recreational attractions and events in our urban getaway’s 250-acres. Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, White River State Park is the place you can enjoy the outdoors without ever leaving the city.
Whitewater Memorial State Park
Location: Liberty Size: 1,710 acres Opened: 1949 Activities: Hiking; fishing; horseback riding; boating; swimming; canoeing; picnicking; ice fishing; archery; hayrides; birdwatching Amenities: Marina; saddle barn; boat launches; boat rental; cabins; 318 modern and primitive campsites; youth tent camping; camp store
DNR description: Whitewater Memorial State Park is a great family getaway because of its 200-acre Whitewater Lake, access to Brookville Reservoir and other recreational facilities. Shoreline hiking, flat-water boating, swimming, fishing and camping opportunities are abundant around the man-made lake. The access to Brookville Reservoir provides many opportunities for seeing migrating flocks of birds. Whitewater Memorial State Park boasts 9 miles of horseback riding trails with access both for day users and from the horsemen’s campground. The land for the park was originally purchased by the surrounding counties of Union, Fayette, Franklin and Wayne as a memorial to the men and women who served in World War II.