Black Attorney Poised to Become Gary, Indiana’s First Female Mayor

Karen Freeman-Wilson hopes to restore Gary’s former glory.

Posted: 05/06/2011 02:36 PM EDT

Karen Freeman-Wilson, a former city judge and Indiana attorney general, could well become the first woman to serve as mayor in Gary, Indiana. She beat nine other candidates to win the city’s Democratic mayoral primary earlier this week with an impressive two-to-one margin. She’s also won the support of most of the Gary city council and outgoing Mayor Rudy Clay.

 

In November, Freeman-Wilson will face Republican nominee Charles R. Smith, Jr., but based on local news reports, she’s a shoo-in to become the overwhelmingly Democratic city’s next mayor.

 

“My biggest challenge is to change the perception of Gary, and that is from the inside and outside,” Freeman-Wilson said after winning the primary.

 

As the Post-Tribune reports, it won’t be easy. The city faces a whole host of problems in the areas of crime, unemployment, abandoned houses, an anemic tax collection rate and troubled schools. Looming property tax caps mean that people will lose jobs and services.

 

Freeman-Wilson clearly likes a challenge, it seems. This was her third mayoral bid. She previously lost to Clay and former Mayor Scott King, who was the city’s first white mayor in 28 years. Her campaign got a major boost when Clay dropped out of the race for medical reasons and endorsed Freeman-Wilson.

(Photo: Karen Freeman-Wilson)

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