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Gary mayoral candidates to discuss ADA

Candidates in the upcoming Gary mayoral election will be discussing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal laws at a public event sponsored by Everybody Counts, a local disability rights agency funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Gary and the ADA: A conversation with the Mayoral Candidates,” will be held on Friday, April 14, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the main floor of the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center, 220 W. 5th Avenue in Gary.

More than 30% of Gary residents are senior citizens or people with disabilities,” said Teresa Torres, Executive Director of Everybody Counts.  “The quality of their lives is directly impacted by our elected officials’ attitude about compliance with federal laws which protect their civil rights.”

Torres claimed that many Northwest Indiana cities and towns fall short from meeting their legal obligations, let alone the spirit of the law.

“Too often, equal access is little more than an afterthought, and as a result many people are unable to fully participate in their community. Our elected officials can set the tone and send a message that would allow valuable citizens the same opportunities as everyone else.”

“Because Gary was one of a select group of municipalities chosen for site reviews by the Department of Justice in 2003,” she explained, “it’s important to have a good understanding of where things stand right now, what issues each candidates would prioritize moving forward, and what specific actions they plan to take.”

Lorrell Kilpatrick, Everybody Counts’ Program Manager, agrees. “The motto ‘City  of the Century,’ is just as applicable now a when it was first adopted,” Kilpatrick said. “What happens in the city of Gary has profound economic and social effect on the rest of Northwest Indiana, and indeed the state.”

“Seniors and people with disabilities were particularly impacted by the recent pandemic, and in fact still are,” she noted. “We need to be better prepared to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are not left out of the planning process.”

Renae Jackson, a life-long city resident and a counselor-advocate for Everybody Counts, says that historically the majority of the agency’s clients live in Gary.

“Folks are still dealing with barriers that shouldn’t be there anymore, and experiencing real challenges that shouldn’t actually be happening,” Jackson said. “This  is a chance for them to ask each candidate about things like accessibility, public transit, housing, public safety and education.”

“Gary and the ADA: a conversation with the Mayoral Candidates” will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook at EverybodyCountsCIL.  Light refreshments  will be provided during a short break.

For more information, contact Lorrell Kilpatrick at [email protected] or call 219/769-5055.

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