It’s Indiana’s eighth largest city and probably its most misunderstood. Gary, Indiana was founded by United States Steel Corporation and was home to one of the nation’s largest steel plants. It was the first city in the nation to elect a Black Mayor (Richard Hatcher in 1967). It was home to the Jackson Family. It developed a reputation in the 70’s and 80’s as a the capital of urban crime in America. As Indiana’s only Black-majority city it suffered sharp population declines from Gary’s white population. But, Gary is a far different city today than it reputation as an industrial steel town or a city of high crime.
Gary is changing and in an exclusive Afternoons with Amos interview, new Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, the first Black female Mayor in of any Indiana city, talked about the Gary of 2013 – it’s strengths, promises and challenges. In our interview Mayor Freeman-Wilson, a former Indiana Attorney General and Gary Judge, talked about jobs, the steel industry in Gary, and her and Gary’s efforts to work with the state and Indiana University to build a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Gary, which would be the only one in Northwest Indiana. She explained the severe cutbacks Gary’s government because of property tax caps as the city lost over 45% of its property tax funding over a six year period. Also in the interview Mayor Freeman-Wilson talked about Gary’s schools. The city has a struggling public school system with historic Gary Roosevelt High School taken over by the state last year. But one of the state’s best charter schools, Thea Bowman Academy is in Gary. The interview also talked about Gary’s promise including being home to the third major Chicago area airport and Gary’s future in logistics and air transportation. And the interview discusses the challenges of Gary’s two casinos and efforts by the state legislature that would reduce Gary’s cut. Click the Link To Hear the Interview With Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Runs 55 Minutes ©2013 WTLC/Radio One.