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Rich James: Whatever the work is, sign says Roy’s doing it

Rich James

Rich James

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Updated: November 9, 2011 1:46PM



I was headed west on U.S. 30 minding my own business and there it was just before Broadway.

Bam!

Talk about having that deer-in-the-headlights feeling.

There he was on one of those illuminated billboards with the every present smile. Could have been a tooth paste commercial.

Yep, Roy Dominguez. The fellow who left the Lake County sheriff’s office eight months ago after having served eight years.

And the message on the billboard was, “Our work continues.”

Didn’t say what work. Just said work. And, it didn’t say when.

Dominguez is a lawyer by trade, but he wasn’t soliciting clients.

No, he was simply keeping his face in front of the public and his name alive. At a cost, of course.

It’s doubtful that he’s lining up for another run for sheriff. That wouldn’t be until 2014 — too far away for someone to keep his or her name in the limelight.

The speculation is that he may be running for county commissioner in 2012.

And this is where it gets real confusing.

Two of the three county commissioners — Frances Dupey and Gerry Scheub — are up for re-election next year.

Scheub, who has moved from Schererville to Merrillville, has pretty much said he will seek re-election. His district includes middle and south county.

Things are different for Dupey, a Hammond resident, who represents the northwest quadrant of Lake County.

Since being re-elected in 2008, Dupey has been counting the days until she slips into retirement. Of course, she could well change her mind.

If all things stayed the same, Scheub and Dominguez, who lives outside Crown Point, would be in the same district and thus, be primary opponents.

But that may not happen given that the three commissioner district will have to be redrawn based on the 2010 census figures.

We know Commissioner Roosevelt Allen’s district will grow geographically because the biggest part of his district is Gary, and that city has lost 20,000 residents since the 2000 census.

But Allen’s seat isn’t up for re-election until 2014.

In terms of Scheub and Dominguez, there is speculation that things won’t stay the same and that they may end up in two different districts.

That might be Dominguez’s only hope, because one-on-one, he loses to Scheub. Incumbents rarely lose in Lake County.

And things get even more complex at this point.

So who draws the new districts based on the new census?

It’s a good question that has more than one answer.

Lake County Democrats, based on the leadership of Chairman Tom McDermott, will draw a map. And there may well be one or two other Democratic maps.

And there will be a Republican map drawn by Dan Dumezich of Schererville. He has the most GOP clout in the county because he raises tons of money for Gov. Mitch Daniels and other downstate Republicans.

And as a reward for all that fund-raising, Dumezich has a seat on the State Election Commission that ultimately will approve the new Lake County commissioner districts.

And Republicans control the five-member commission.

Can Dumezich draw a map to essentially guarantee one of the three districts for a Republican? Sure.

If you haven’t yet read between the lines, Lake County again is getting the shaft from downstate Republicans.

Lake County is just one of two counties that needs state election commission approval of its redistricting.

They say that is the case because just Lake and St. Joseph counties elect county commissioners by district vote.

In the other 90 counties, the commissioners run by districts but are elected by countywide vote.

And, so why doesn’t the state have to approve county commissioner districts in all of Indiana’s counties?

Lake County used to elect its commissioners by countywide vote.

That was changed 30 years ago, essentially to allow for both a black and Republican to be elected County Commissioner.

And it worked.

Atterson Spann of East Chicago was elected the county’s first black commissioner in 1982. Two years later, Ernest Niemeyer of Lowell was elected the county’s first Republican commissioner since before the Great Depression.

When Ernest retired, Scheub beat his son, Rick Niemeyer, in the same commissioner’s district.

That’s politics.

And the state election commission has no right trying to dictate politics in Lake County.

Especially when it doesn’t have a say in 90 other counties.

Rich James’ column appears on Fridays.



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