By Giavonni Nickson
Grassroots community leader Jessica Renslow (D) announced plans to make a comeback after losing her first run for House Representative of District 3, which includes Gary’s downtown and east side, Lake Station, New Chicago, and Hobart.
State Representative Ragen Hatcher (D), daughter of former Mayor Richard G. Hatcher, and successor of long-time District 3 House Representative Charlie Brown (D), currently holds the District seat. Brown chose not to seek re-election after serving 36 years in office from 1982 -2018.
Hatcher defeated Renslow in the Democratic primary in May 2018 with a vote count of 4,157 (59.1 percent) to Renslow’s 2,874 (40.9 percent). Hatcher recently announced her run for the State Senate District 3 seat that is being vacated by State Senator Eddie Melton (D), who is running for governor.
With steadfast commitment, Ren- slow bounced back from the 2018 loss and is boldly vying to win the 2020 election for the District 3 House seat.
Surrounded by District 3 residents, advocates, and elected officials, Ren- slow announced her official candidacy at the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center.
Born and raised in Gary IN, Renslow put herself through Ball State’s Japanese Language Culture and Telecommunications Production program. In 2012 Renslow received a Master’s in Education with a concentration in Technology and Leadership, from California State University-Los Angeles.
Renslow has worked in multiple countries and states, pushed for education policy reform while teaching abroad, negotiated fair labor contracts with local union leaders, and promoted mentorship initiatives for underserved communities.
Renslow feels that her diverse career and community influence have equipped her to lead at the state level.
“As your state representative, I promise to use all the skills I honed negotiating contracts with Marvel, the expertise I gained translating policy reform for the Japanese Ministry of Education and the tenacity I’ve garnered these past five years as your community builder, to help raise the overall quality of life for all of Indiana House District 3,” said Renslow.
After being away for 15 years, Renslow returned to Gary. “There is no place like home,” said Renslow during her announcement. Renslow’s commitment to District 3 has been demonstrated through her civic leadership.
Renslow initiated and piloted the Neighborhood Spotlight Grant initiative, which originated in the Miller and Northwest Hobart communities then branched out to Gary’s Aetna, Glen Ryan, Emerson, and Downtown.
While working as a community builder promoting collective impact across District 3, Renslow collaborated within the Neighborhood Spotlight footprints to expand outreach in Lake Station and New Chicago.
“After five years of serving Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago and Hobart in a variety of capacities, listening to your needs, creating goals with you and helping implement them, I feel confident that House District 3 has a lot going for it,” said Renslow to a group of excited supporters.
Renslow plans to unify and honor the 64,574 residents in District 3 who she believes have been strategically divided. “When politicians split a city like Gary into thirds, take one like Hobart and cut it into bits then squish places like Lake Station and New Chicago in the middle, it’s pretty obvious that the goal is to divide us,” said Renslow.
The diversity of District 3 is what Renslow believes is one of its greatest assets to leverage growth opportunities in an urban landscape.
Lake Station Mayor William Carroll speaks of the diversity of District 3 in her endorsement of Renslow.
“As the mayor of one of the four Indiana House District 3 cities, I have a strong interest in making sure there is active, positive leadership representing our communities at the state level. Our district is a very diverse area that needs a strong voice for all, who can also get things done, and understands the value of collaboration,” said Carroll. “Jessica Renslow has consistently advocated for all of Indiana House District 3, and that’s why I fully support her in her candidacy to be our next State Representative.”
Renslow’s civic imprint includes:
- Helping 150 local businesses connect with the IDOA’s Division of Supplier Diversity to facilitate a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification Program at The Stage Gary Small Business Incubator and Coworking Site
- Bringing a universally designed kayak launch fishing pier to Lake Station
- Promoting wellness initiatives in Hobart Township
- Advocating for educational policy reform in Indianapolis
Renslow is not the only community leader with eyes on the District 3 House seat.
Gary West Side Leadership Academy teacher and Theatre Guild Director Mark Spencer, and Calumet Township Board President Darren Washington both formed an exploratory committee to gauge plans to run for the House District 3 seat.
Attorney Tony Walker, who is a member of Prince’s transition team and the State Board of Education, is supporting Spencer.
Washington is a former Gary School Board president and General Assembly lobbyist, currently serving as a chaplain for the Indiana State Police.
Renslow is prepared to face the competition with a campaign focused on the following:
- Retaining young talent in Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, and Hobart
- Supporting local businesses
- Advocating for school funding reform
- Creating accessible communities for all
- Attracting high-paying 21st-century jobs
- Protecting the environment and promoting green investments
- Lowering healthcare prescription costs
Renslow believes she can be the legislative advocate District 3 needs.
“I believe that Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, and Hobart need an advocate that understands that our diversity is an asset and that working together is the key to our success,” said Renslow.
Filing for the legislative seat begins January 8, 2020. The deadline to submit for candidacy is February 7 to run in the May 5 primary election.