Gary residents to vote for mayor next Tuesday

November 4, 2011 2:26:32 PM PDT
Foreclosure signs, abandoned homes, closed businesses, and a declining population. Well before the economic collapse, Gary, Ind., spiraled into decline when the steel industry did the same.

Despite its current state, candidates hoping to be Gary's next mayor are promising to bring their city back.

"You start with the financial part, try to get more residents here to raise [assessed value] and get more businesses here to do the same thing," Karen Freeman-Wilson, Democratic candidate for mayor.

Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson says the city owns 12,000 parcels of land. Her idea is to sell homes for a dollar to residents and give them 6 months to bring the properties to code. Homes that are not worth saving, Wilson, says tear down.

Independent Lavetta Sparks-Wade has a plan similar to Freeman-Wilson, but the 47-year-old independent candidate says her focus will begin with providing residents with basic services.

"Our streets aren't paved on a regular basis. We are running over potholes on a consistent basis. Snow is not removed in a timely fashion," Sparks-Wade said.

If Sparks-Wade or Freeman-Wilson win, one of them will become Gary's first female mayor. But, Eddie Tarver says this election is not about making history. Representing the political party he founded called Unicratic, the 40-year-old business consultant says putting an end to corruption is the key to moving Gary forward.

"My people are struggling and we need someone who cannot be bought or sold -- and that is me," Tarver said.

Teacher's assistant Charles Smith also believes ending political corruption will bring businesses back to Gary. Making a third attempt at the office, the Republican is not discouraged by the fact that Gary residents have been electing democratic mayors since the 1930s.

"It's time for someone who doesn't have any political debt, whose only idea or decision in running is to make it better for everybody," Smith said.

All four candidates were born and raised in the city they want to run. Voters go the polls next Tuesday in Gary.

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