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Lake County Council debates election of superior court judges

screenshot from Lake County Indiana Council YouTube video
Lake County Council members meet on March 8.

Lake County Council members are calling for the county's superior court judges to be elected by the people. Currently, they're are selected by the governor from a pool of candidates created by a judicial nominating commission. Voters only have the option to retain or reject them, when their term ends.

In a partly-line vote Tuesday, the county council voted five-to-two to support a move to regular elections — the system used by the vast majority of Indiana's counties.

Council Member Charlie Brown said he's been trying to get the state to make the change for 20 years. "There is no logical, feasible and fair explanation as to why Lake County cannot elect their superior court judges," Brown told the rest of the council.

Council members noted that the few counties that don't elect their own superior court judges are heavily Democratic and are home to the majority of Indiana's African Americans. David Hamm called the system racial injustice.

"Again, we're being treated different. I think that the African American community is being slighted. It appears to me — you can call me wrong — that it's suggested that we're not going to let the African American community select their judges. We're going to let the Caucasian communities," Hamm said.

Dan Dernulc and Christian Jorgensen opposed the measure. Jorgensen felt the current method is a representative system.

"Well I would say that the last several judges who have been appointed are diverse. I don't believe it's a racial issue," Jorgensen said.

Meanwhile, Dernulc wanted to keep the current system in place and see if it continues to work.