As we approach May 7, 2019, I want to take this opportunity to address you collectively one last time.
The first is that education matters. When rebuilding a city with decades of challenges, it is necessary to engage with people in the public and private sector on matters impacting our citizens. Many of these people are experienced businesspeople, lawyers, accountants and other trained professionals. Casino development, Multi-modal Development, Transit-Oriented Development, Tax Increment Financing, Consent Decrees, Municipal Finance and Intergovernmental Compacts are all intricate issues that a Mayor should not have to count on others to explain to him or her. My parents, family and community encouraged my investment in education. As a result, I graduated from Harvard College with honors and from Harvard Law School. Despite many choices, I returned to my hometown determined to make a difference. That sacrifice and determination have benefited the citizens of this community through my interaction with two White House administrations, members of Congress, three Governors, the Indiana General Assembly, and many other representatives of the state and federal government. This is not elitism, but simply a message that when there is a challenging task to be undertaken (and leading the city of Gary is a formidable challenge), it requires our best talent.
The second is that experience matters. I have been blessed to serve as the Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Gary City Court Judge, Indiana Attorney General, Lake County Deputy Prosecutor, Lake County Public Defender, and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. In every capacity, my work has not been about position, but people. The opportunity to serve at the local, state and national level has equipped me to lead this city. Because I have been involved in the justice system, I understand the complexities of solving our city’s problem with violent crime. This has informed our comprehensive approach, which has involved law enforcement at all levels of government, community members, youth, and families who have experienced violence. It also incorporates enforcement and prevention. This experience has also allowed me to actively engage in resolutions for the Consent Decrees with Methodist Hospital and the Gary Sanitary District while working with our team to forge a path to compliance with the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
The third is that relationships matter. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. My parents, Travis and Delores Freeman were community champions and instilled the responsibility of service in me. Their example influenced my choice of a mate (who would find me) and it follows that Carmen and I met in public service. We have passed this on to our children. We are so humbled that our daughter Jordan has taken up the mantle of civic engagement. This support has extended to all of our family members in many capacities. However, it is not just family relationships, but it is the ability to work collaboratively with local, state and national leaders in government, business and community activism from all parties and walks of life. These relationships have benefited Gary through the development of our anti-crime initiative, our economic development work and our efforts to improve the image of our city. These relationships have allowed me to lead national organizations and bring their resources to Gary. This is especially important to a community that struggles with resources.
The fourth is that words matter. A lot of words and phrases have been used throughout the course of this election. “Misappropriation,” “Integrity,” “Desert,” “Dirty,” and “Poor.” Some of my opponents have attempted to raise their political profiles on the backs of this community. I have built a reputation of honesty, integrity, humility, and positivity. I have become a better listener during this campaign and am grateful to all who shared their opinions, frustrations and advice. Our city will be better because you care. Leadership requires that we work daily to lift the spirit of our community and inspire our citizens to be their best while assuring them that we are doing our best. Leaders take responsibility when things go wrong while giving credit when things go right. True leaders develop a team ready for battle and it has been one of my most humbling experiences to lead a hardworking team in the service of my hometown.
In elections, endorsements matter. It has been humbling to enjoy the active support of elected and appointed leaders in our community, especially every one of my living predecessors. It is also noteworthy that the Gary Precinct Organization (a group led by one of my opponents), the Council of Northwest Indiana Building Trades and the Operating Engineers, Local 150, many members of the faith community in their individual capacities, and thousands of citizens I have encountered during the course of my service are supporting my candidacy.
Because elections are won one vote at a time, I know that what matters most is those of you who will cast ballots on Election Day. So on the eve of this important election, I ask that you first and foremost vote. I also humbly ask that you re-elect me as Mayor, Council President Ron Brewer, Councilman Mike Brown and Councilman Herb Smith as At-Large Council members, Councilman Michael Protho for the 2nd District, Councilwoman Mary Brown for the 3rd District, Councilwoman Linda Barnes-Caldwell for the 5th District, and elect William Godwin for the 1st District, Tai Adkins for the 4th District, and Dwight Williams for the 6th District. Also, please remember our City Judge Deidre Monroe and City Clerk Suzette Raggs as they stand for re-election without opposition.
May God Bless you, our great city and the United States of America.