Popular Gary teacher mulling run for Indiana House

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Crusader Staff Report

Mark Spencer, a popular teacher at the Gary Community School Corp., is considering running for the District 3 seat in the Indiana House.

Spencer recently announced that he’s forming an exploratory committee for the Democratic nomination for the seat, which represents parts of Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago and Hobart.

Spencer is the fine arts director for Gary schools and director of West Side Theater Guild.

He said in one news report that if he runs, he will focus on economic development in Lake County and will support arts and culture. Spencer also pledged to campaign for increased funding for public schools and teachers.

Spencer was profiled in a Gary Crusader article in 2017. According to the article, Spencer was in the first graduating class of Emerson Visual and Performing Arts School in Gary.

With encouragement from his mother and his love for the community he grew up in, Spencer would go on to graduate and serve as an instructor in the same school system that nurtured him. After his tenure in the classroom, Spencer took a step of faith and started the West Side Theatre Guild, which has featured Dr. Cornell West, gospel legend Shirley Caesar, Tye Tribbett, Ossie Davis, Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott-King and Bill Cosby. Under an entirely different name at that time, the West Side Stage Club, Spencer put on his first Lyrics production called Lyrics for Living.

In the coming weeks, the 20-plus-year educator reportedly expects to make a final decision about whether to run after consulting with Gary Mayor-elect Jerome Prince and prominent attorney Tony Walker.

The district seat is currently held by state Representative Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary. Before Ragen, veteran lawmaker Charlie Brown held the seat for 36 years before he successfully ran for Lake County councilman.

Ragen Hatcher last month announced that she will run for the state Senate seat held by Eddie Melton, who is running for Indiana governor.

If Spencer decides to run, he may face Calumet Township Board President Darren Washington, who reportedly is also exploring a potential campaign for Hatcher’s House seat.

Filing for the legislative seats begins January 8, 2020. The deadline to submit a candidacy is February 7 to run in the May 5 primary election.

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