Lake to move up in prosecutor’s office
MICHIGAN CITY — John Lake will be the next La Porte County prosecutor.
After a contentious campaign, the Democratic candidate won 20,065 (54.53 percent) votes, compared to Republican Christina Espar’s 16,730 (45.47 percent) in Tuesday’s general election.
“It’s indescribable,” Lake said after the final results were announced.
He and his family, friends and other supporters cheered, hugged and celebrated inside the banquet room at the St. Joseph Young Men’s Society (St. Joe Club), where many La Porte County Democrats gathered to hear the election results Tuesday night.
After finding his words, he said, “It’s great. You know, I didn’t do this for myself, I did it for all the people of La Porte County. I wanted to bring justice back and do it the right way. And I’m so happy.”
Espar did not return a request for comment as of press time.
As the new year approaches, Lake plans to tie up loose ends at the Indiana Attorney General’s Office in Indianapolis, including a trial scheduled for December.
But he intends to return home on the weekends to prepare for the transition into the office currently held by his opponent’s father, John Espar — who Lake defeated in the Democratic primary in May.
His initial focus, Lake said, will be determining a budget and addressing staff issues.
“There will be job offers extended to people who are on staff; I don’t anticipate a whole gutting of the office,” he said. “That was never in my plan. But there will be people who want to move on who have a different vision than I do. And there may be people that I may not retain, I don’t know.”
Simultaneously, he will have to focus his attention on cases set for trial between January and April in each of the La Porte County courts.
According to Lake, he has a success rate of 99 percent for criminal trials, with his last loss as first chair in 1995. He said during a debate in October that he intends to personally try the most serious cases in the county as opposed to having deputy prosecutors take them.
The job of prosecutor consists of what Lake called “three prongs” – first, dealing with law enforcement; second, ensuring justice for victims, even in the event it’s not a slam-dunk case; and third, safeguarding the rights of the accused.
“I think that’s really about the first time that (constituents) heard that,” Lake said Tuesday. “They understand it, that we’re going to be fair, we’re going to be just, and we’re not going to be judging people based on who they are or who they associate with, but based on the evidence.
“And we’re not going to be selectively prosecuting or vindictively prosecuting or politically prosecuting people. We’re not going to use the prosecutor’s office as a sword against people who we don’t like. And I think that message resonated with the public.
“There’s still a large percentage of people who didn’t vote for me, and you’re representing all of them. And there’s not going to be any going after or any witch hunts; justice is blind.”