- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - City officials in northwestern Indiana have resigned after a Lake County judge upheld the state’s law regarding nepotism.

Lake Superior Court Judge William E. Davis released a ruling Wednesday against a group of public officials from Lake County who sued to overturn a 2012 law forbidding elected officials from also being employees of the same governing agency, The Times of Northwest Indiana (https://bit.ly/2ajUF3d ) reported.

“It’s a sad day for my 5th District,” Hammond City Councilman Michael Opinker said Wednesday.

Opinker, Hammond City Councilmen Scott Rakos, Hobart City Councilman Matthew D. Claussen, New Chicago Town Councilwoman Susan Pelfrey and East Chicago City Councilman Juda Parks filed challenges in both federal and state courts, arguing the law violated their right to be involved in elective politics.

Last year, a federal judge ruled against the group. After the decision Wednesday, Opinker and Claussen said they would resign their city council seats.

Pelfrey resigned July 14 in anticipation of the ruling, and Scott Rakos resigned as an assistant Hammond fire chief last year in order to run for Hammond City Council.

Parks said he’d decide what to do over the weekend.

Opinker said he won’t appeal but that he remained bitter about the decision.

“I’ve been a councilman for more than six and a half years and a firefighter more than 22 years,” Opinker said. “It’s been a great honor to do both. My taxpayers and constituents interact with me on a daily basis. Who knows the citizens best than fire and police? We work these neighborhoods on a daily basis.”


Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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