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A local trial lawyer and close ally of Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has been selected to head the city’s law department.

Kevin Smith, a partner at Munster law firm Smith Sersic, will become corporate counsel effective June 3, according to McDermott’s office.

He replaces former city attorney Kristina Kantar, who was sworn in Thursday as Lake County Superior Court judge in Gary.

Smith is well-connected in local Democratic Party circles and is a close confidant of McDermott’s. He currently serves as one of two Democratic Party-appointed members of the Lake County Board of Elections.

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“Kevin has advised me from day one in office,” McDermott said in a statement. “He will be a tremendous asset to the City as Corporation Counsel.”

Smith has provided legal guidance to Hammond on a formal and informal basis throughout McDermott’s tenure as mayor. He previously served as attorney for the Hammond Park Department and the Hammond Port Authority.

A Hammond native, Smith graduated from DePaul University School of Law in 1994 after completing an undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

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