MICHIGAN CITY – The race for mayor has gotten more crowded, and two City Council candidates who were originally running unopposed now have challengers.
Last week was the deadline for independent candidates to submit petitions and signatures to appear on the Nov. 5 Municipal Election ballot, and for the two major parties to slate candidates for seats not filled in the primary.
To run as an independent, a candidate must collect signatures of registered voters in the election district that total at least 2 percent of the total votes cast in the 2018 Secretary of State’s race in the district.
Four candidates who weren’t on the ballots in the May primary will appear on the general election ballot in Michigan City; and one candidate who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the Common Council in the Democratic Primary has filed as an independent to run for mayor.
Damon Carnes, pastor of Freedom in the Word Ministries and full-time floor tech at La Porte Hospital, was one of six candidates vying for three Democratic at-large positions in the City Council race. He finished in fourth place.
Now he will try for the mayor's seat without the backing of either party.
“I don’t feel like [incumbent Mayor] Ron Meer is going to hit the hard issues in Michigan City that need to be dealt with," Carnes said. "I feel like I’m the only one that’s going to attack those issues. Simple as that.”
Also running as an independent mayoral candidate is James T. LaRocco, whose late father, Joe LaRocco, served as mayor of Michigan City from 1976-79.
LaRocco served on the Michigan City Fire Department for 27 years, and in the U.S. Army Reserves for six years. He also has owned LaRocco Pest Control for the past 40 years, and is an on-air radio host known locally for his time as sports director at WIMS in the early 2010s.
“I'm a lifelong resident of Michigan City – and while there's a lot of good, positive things happening in Michigan City – there are some negative things that need to be addressed," LaRocco said. "I was always taught that if you don't like what's going on, get involved in changing it."
LaRocco and Carnes will face off against Meer and Republican mayoral candidate Duane Parry in the general election.
Michigan City residents in the Second and Sixth wards also have new candidates to consider for the City Council.
Franklin O. Anderson, who filed as an independent, is vying for the Sixth Ward Council seat currently held by Gene Simmons, who is seeking re-election.
And the La Porte County Republican Party slated Dan Granquist to run for the same position.
Anderson, a lifelong resident of the Sixth Ward, is retired from Weil-McLain, where he worked for more than 30 years.
Granquist is a local attorney who lost the Indiana House District 9 race to Pat Boy last November.
Alena Ursida, a stay-at-home mom who moved to Michigan City in 2011, was slated as the Republican candidate for the Second Ward council seat being vacated by current Councilwoman Candice Silvas, who did not seek re-election. Former councilman Paul Przybylinski won the Democratic primary for the Second Ward, and will face Ursida in the fall.
“I think it’s important that we can get good, quality candidates on the ballot,” said Jim Pressel, spokesman for the La Porte County Republican Party.
“Sometimes, it’s a tough decision for them to make and they aren’t ready to commit at the primary. But we’re glad to have them aboard now. I feel like we’ve got some good, quality candidates in all of the seats, and I think it’s nice we’re making a good showing in Michigan City.”
MUNICIPAL ELECTION BALLOT
Candidates who will appear on the ballot for Michigan City mayor, clerk and Common Council seats in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, municipal election:
James T. LaRocco
CITY COUNCIL WARD 1
CITY COUNCIL WARD 2
CITY COUNCIL WARD 3
CITY COUNCIL WARD 4
CITY COUNCIL WARD 5
CITY COUNCIL WARD 6
Franklin O. Anderson
CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE
Angie Nelson Deuitch
William ‘Billy’ Greene III