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Councilman Pratt retires after 34 years

Councilman Roy Pratt

Joining two other officials who attended final council meeting Dec. 15

The political careers of three prominent Gary council members came to an end officially Tuesday, December 15, when Roy Pratt, Ronier Scott and Mildred Shannon, who was absent due to her illness, attended their last Common Council meeting.

Two of the councilpersons were defeated in their reelection bids. At-large Councilman Pratt said it was time for him to retire. Pratt has been in office for 34 years. Scott has served the Sixth District for 11 years and Shannon has served the First District for three years.

Pratt said in addition to being a G1-23 precinct committeeman for two terms, being on the council has been the only political position he has ever held. He said after 34 years it was time for him to go. “I’m going to let the young people experience some now. At some time in your life you figure out its time to go. I’ve enjoyed every moment of representing the city,” he said.

Pratt also spent 30 years of his life in the Gary Community School Corporation as a physical education teacher at Beckman Middle School and Froebel High School.

Pratt said over the years he was proud that he was able to introduce the casino industry and the baseball stadium to the city. He said, “My idea of bringing the baseball stadium into the city was not as profitable as the casinos have been, but they brought in a lot of funds.”

During his last council meeting Councilman Pratt addressed the council and the audience regarding his departure.

He said, “I decided not to run for re-election months ago. I want you to know it has been a pleasure and an honor to serve the citizens and the City of Gary for over 30 something years. I want to thank you for reelecting me for a number of times. I am grateful to the citizens of Gary who I love. I want to thank the person who I don’t call my secretary, but my assistant Vanessa Williams because she has been here so long and she has always been there to help me in any way. I want to thank you Mr. President (Kyle Allen) as the son of my good friend Dozier T. Allen, who started in this venture with me many years ago. I want to commend all of the members of this council and I wish you the best of luck and I know you will do well in terms of serving the citizens of Gary. I have a wonderful wife who I’ve been married to for 47 years. As I was out on this trail she was always there. The City of Gary is a good city. It will rise again. It is my hometown and I’ve loved serving on the council. I’m leaving on my own. Let me leave you with this heavy heart the lyrics of this song ‘It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye’.”

Now that he is retiring Pratt said he will spend more time at his church, St. John Baptist, where he serves as a deacon.

Scott has served on the City Council since 2004. He also has served four terms as the precinct committeeman for G 6-17. Scott said now that he is stepping down his plans are to still be active with various community services, such as helping with clothes giveaways, participating in different outreach ministries and things like that. He said, “It’s like whatever the community needs I will be there for them.”

Councilman Scott said the biggest thing that stands out for him over the years in which he made impact was when he served as president of the Council between 2008-2011. It was then that the State’s Stress Unit Appeals Board (SUAB) came to Gary and the state recommended that the city eliminate the City Court, the City Clerk’s office and to close the City Jail.

“We were successful on several occasions going down to Indianapolis and testifying before the SUAB on why we should keep our departments and our services with limited funds and resources. As president of the council, I was able to unite all the elected officials on city, state and county levels for one common cause and we were successful,” he said.

Councilman Scott said he has had the honor to serve under four mayors, Scott King, Thomas Bar-nes, Rudy Clay and now Karen Freeman-Wilson.

He said he would like to thank the citizens of the sixth district for putting their trust in him and electing him on a continual basis. He said, “I don’t know if it is a fact but I think I might be the first sixth district councilman to serve three terms. I don’t think anyone has passed two terms and I pride myself on that.”

In his final meeting as a member of the council, Scott made the following statement to his fellow council members and the audience.

He said, “It has been truly a pleasure to serve with Councilman Pratt over the years. I would like to thank the citizens of the City of Gary particularly the citizens of the Sixth District who gave me the opportunity to serve as their district councilperson. It’s been a good ride, but it’s not over as far as being a public servant. This is something I do in my daily life anyway. Born into a family that serves the community whether it’s in day to day life or church. I am proud to have been able to serve three terms as the 6th District Councilperson. While sitting on this council, I’ve had the opportunity to bond with everyone on the council. I would also like to thank the staff here in the council office. A lot of times they do things behind the scenes and they deserve a lot of credit. Like Councilman Pratt said it is a pleasure to have a spouse to stand by you as you go through being an elected official because they have to sacrifice so much. It has truly been a pleasure. We’ve been through a lot of difficulties within the city but coming together we were able to make it through. If nothing else has been done, it’s one thing we can say is that we were united together and we are still standing despite all of the negativity from outside communities that thought we couldn’t make it. We are still here. It’s not a sad occasion for me because I know the future holds good things for me and I’m looking forward to it.”

First District Councilwoman Mildred Shannon first sat on the council from 1994 to 1995 when she filled the seat of the late Councilwoman-at-Large Dorothy Allen who took over the seat of her husband Clemmons Allen. She held the position of Councilwoman of the 1st District from 2013 to 2015.

Under former Lake County Sheriff and Lake County Democratic Chairman Steven “Bob” Stiglich she served as secretary for the Lake County Democratic Precinct Organization and served on several boards and commissions.

Shannon was a member of the National League of Cities, Women in Municipal Government and represented the 1st District as their precinct person for many years. She also worked at the Calumet Township Office for a number of years.

Because of her illness Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson, niece of Shannon, spoke on her behalf. Robinson said Shannon has served for just as many years as Councilman Pratt in a variety of government positions.

Robinson added that Shannon is doing quite well recovering from her illness. She said, “Physically she is doing well it’s just dealing with getting her cognition back together. She’s coming along in her therapy and its working out pretty good.” Robinson said she loves her church, Embassies of Christ, her family and her politics.

Robinson said Shannon wants to thank the citizens of the First District for all of the help, mostly the love from all of the people. She said, “There has been so many people constantly calling and trying to see her. She has to take it slow, but she would say thank you so much for helping her through this whole thing up until now and the campaign. The biggest part of her career as councilwoman for the First District has been all of the work she loved doing for the citizens. If she wasn’t ill she would still be doing her thing by helping the mayor and helping the council. She had become very close to Third District Councilwoman Mary Brown as the two became traveling companions.

Because of her illness she was not able to attend the final council meeting of the year.

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