M’ville Democrat thrilled with primary win
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 8, 2014 7:34PM
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:56AM
MERRILLVILLE — Jamal Washington said he needs to take a couple of days to rest before he starts his campaign to try to become the first Merrillville resident to hold the District 3 seat on the Lake County Council.
The political newcomer edged out Calumet Township Board member Ron Matlock, of Gary, by 254 votes for the seat in Tuesday’s primary election.
The lead flipped back and forth between the men before Washington wound up with about 52 percent of the vote.
“I knocked on a lot of doors. It was an old grass-roots campaign,” Washington, 40, said in explaining his victory.
Early returns had Matlock pulling ahead, but once Merrillville votes were tallied, Washington edged into the lead and stayed there.
“Remarkably, I did very well in Gary and Merrillville. ... I did very well in the Miller area,” Washington said.
He said he thought his win resulted from voters seeing him as relatable and approachable.
“I think people can see I don’t tell people what they want to hear. I try to always tell the truth. I think people respect that,” he said.
Washington will face Republican Michael S. Sanders, an unfamiliar face in the county GOP. Sanders received 361 votes in the primary and ran unopposed.
Dan Dernulc, Lake County Republican chairman, said he’s unfamiliar with Sanders and plans to reach out over the next week to discuss his campaign for the general election in November.
Dernulc said he was surprised that the county council’s passing of the 1.5 percent county income tax in 2012 did not have more of an adverse impact on Democrats. He hopes voters will consider his party’s candidates in the fall.
“Maybe voters will see there might be a different choice,” Dernulc said.