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Incumbent Calumet Township trustee ousted in Democratic primary

Gary City Councilwoman Kimberly Robinswrites down vote tallies board her campaign headquarters Tuesday. Robinsis challenging Calumet Township Trustee Mary ElgDemocratic

Gary City Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson writes down vote tallies on a board at her campaign headquarters Tuesday. Robinson is challenging Calumet Township Trustee Mary Elgin in the Democratic primary. | Carole Carlson~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 8, 2014 6:07AM



GARY — Backlash over spending from Griffith officials and the shadow of a federal raid may have cost Mary Elgin a fourth term as Calumet Township trustee Tuesday.

Boosted by support from Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary City Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson defeated Elgin in a hard-fought Democratic primary race in unofficial vote tallies that showed Robinson with 55 percent of the vote to Elgin’s 45 percent.

Robinson will face unopposed Republican Dorita P. Lee in November.

“I’m happy that it’s over and I’m ready to get to work,” said Robinson. “I feel like we can come together now as Democrats.”

With Freeman-Wilson at her side all night, Robinson counted vote totals on a large board with her teenage son, Christion, and other supporters.

A few blocks away, Elgin supporters warily watched vote totals trickle in during a long evening at her headquarters. As victory appeared to sway toward Robinson, Elgin cleared a table, putting pizza away in boxes.

“Karen fought a good race,” Elgin said referring to Freeman-Wilson. “It’s unfortunate the candidate did not have the ability to fight as hard.”

The mood was merrier at Robinson’s headquarters as her supporters danced and hugged each other.

“Kim slayed Goliath,” said Darren Washington, the top vote-getter for the Calumet Township board race. Incumbent Clorius Lay was the next highest vote getter. Several candidates were in a tight race for the third seat, but Mary Ann Reedus appeared victorious.

Freeman-Wilson cited the low voter turnout. “As we get people like Kim in office who do what they say they’re going to do, voters will be more encouraged in the process,” she said.

If Robinson wins in November, almost a certainty, she’ll take over as the state is reining in spending in Calumet Township. After years of complaints from Griffith officials, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing Griffith to leave the township if spending isn’t curtailed.

Elgin has taken the brunt of criticism, but she cited Calumet Township’s high poverty rate and the need for poor relief for the indigent. Calumet Township leads the state in poor relief spending, but Elgin’s critics said too much was spent on her payroll.

Robinson, who’s been on the City Council since 2008, will have to leave her job as chief of staff for the Lake County treasurer’s office if she wins in November.

Along with Freeman-Wilson’s endorsement, Robinson won endorsements handily from Gary and Griffith precinct organizations.

Adding to Elgin’s uphill struggle was a March 27 raid by FBI and Internal Revenue Service officials who left with boxes of evidence and a computer. Elgin has steadfastly denied wrongdoing. No charges or indictments have been filed.

A retired steel union official and ArcelorMittal worker, Elgin enjoyed support from former mayor Richard G. Hatcher and his family.



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