The Crusader Newspaper Group

Gary Deserves Better – NOW (No Opportunities Wasted!)

Senator Eddie Melton has taken on a big job. He wants to create a new vision of what the city of Gary can be. His theme, “Gary deserves better—NOW,” says it all. He believes that transformation is real and can happen, and that he is the man to make it happen by investing in people.

“My vision is a city that works for everyone, no matter someone’s age or background, a city that provides services that address the best quality of life. That means basic city services, getting rid of blight, filling potholes and taking down vacant overgrown lots. It also means doing better, more efficient police work. It means creating livable wage jobs. It means spending resources wisely.”

Melton has done his homework, having held and participated in dozens of Town Hall meetings and focus groups.

“I got a true sense of what people want. One issue they made clear was they want safe spaces, like parks and recreational facilities. Under my administration, every district will have a safe and fully functioning park where seniors and young people alike can be together for mutual enjoyment,” Melton said.

The idea of safe parks has been around for a while. What makes Melton’s vision different is that he will involve business partners, philanthropic groups and community organizations that will work together with Council people to provide the resources to enhance each park.

A clean and safe city is possible, but Melton insists making that happen is also a matter of getting all levels of government into the picture.

“We need to address critical issues that have been neglected for 20-40 years. A major part of making a transformation is innovative leadership that can combine the talents and resources already there on the local, state and federal government levels. For too long, Gary has not taken advantage of the opportunities we have to make change. I will be that mayor who will do the work to make it happen.”

As a State Senator, Melton has done a deep dive into the money and resources available on all three government levels. He has been instrumental in facilitating $25 million to demolish empty school buildings and securing $88,000 that paid for every Gary police officer to have a protective vest.

“When we have relationships, we can get things done. As Senator, I can see what government can do on every level. And, therefore, I believe we can do so much more here in Gary.”

Melton plans to unveil a broad strategic plan and the specifics of his platform in the weeks to come to show how all of this can happen. The public will then have a chance to think about, respond and contribute to his call for transformation.

The issue of public safety is clearly a major concern for Melton.

“We have not had a permanently appointed chief of police during the current administration. This uncertainty must stop. My administration would work to keep people safe and, by having clear goals, police and fire will have the things they need like vests and uniforms. All of this requires an experienced chief, someone knowledgeable and experienced who understands and respects our community. We will require accountability.”

Melton believes in addressing the root cause of crime today, which is poverty. This means investing in job training programs for young adults and re-entry programs for the formerly incarcerated, expanding mental health services, developing after school programs, and attracting good paying jobs that provide livable wages, all of which contribute to a decrease in crime and an increase in public safety.

He is particularly interested in a robust re-entry agenda targeted at providing wraparound services for formerly incarcerated citizens who need a support system to meet their basic health care, education, shelter, clothing and job training needs.

“We need a place where they can go to become productive citizens of Gary and re-entry becomes a reality.”

Melton also believes the police department needs to be restructured. To make this happen, he has pledged to work with the department, the Fraternal Order of Police, (FOP), the Council and community groups to ensure more officers are physically on the street. And he understands more officers can be retained through more robust training and mental health awareness of officers themselves.

Melton’s support for restructuring is based on the 21st Century Policing Agenda, a set of strategies developed during the Obama administration. This agenda details how the community can have a voice in police matters as well as ways in which more officers can be recruited through financial incentives in homeownership options including low interest loans.

“I like the concept of workforce housing for police and fire workers, for teachers, for City Hall employees. Because there is a shortage of police officers and teachers nationwide, in this way, we can grow our city while recruiting new residents.”

Growing the city goes hand in hand with economic and community development.

Melton says Gary should not have to compromise its health and safety to get good jobs. Working with organizations like Gary Advocates for Responsible Development (GARD) the federal EPA and the Council, he will create a set of economic, community and environmental standards that will guide the placement of businesses in the city.

He also plans to seek federal funds for training in environmental remediation of toxic substances that will bring new jobs and betterment to the city.

“And finally, the city of Gary has until 2026 to use all of its $80 million in American Rescue Plan dollars. I would like to see some of those funds invested in the kind of human infrastructure we need here in Gary. It is the people’s money and should be used for the people.”

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