Gary’s Election Day concluded as expected with state Sen. Eddie Melton winning the mayoral race in a landslide, securing a commanding 94% of the votes. Democratic Common Council members Ronnie Brewer, Mark Spencer, and Darren Washington also triumphed in securing the three at-large council seats, outpacing Republican candidate Ivan Ursery II.
Capital B Gary’s reporters canvassed the polls on Election Day, capturing the voices and sentiments of voters, campaign volunteers, and poll workers. Here are the insights and perspectives from Gary residents, accompanied by a message from Melton.
Mayor-elect talks to Gary residents
“My message to the people of Gary is we’re going to be in this together,” Melton told Capital B Gary on Election Day. “I’m going to do everything I can to provide direction and leadership for the city, to craft a vision and let everybody know how they can be a part of that vision as we bring the city back. But I can’t do it alone. So it will take each and every one of us.”
Voter and Campaign Volunteer in Miller Discusses the Power of Voting
Gail Puckett, 64, Salesperson
Puckett said she believes in the power of voting and votes in every election — something her father instilled in her at a young age. In the next mayor, she hopes to see changes in education and job opportunities for people in the city. She said she hopes people turnout for this election.
“I think it’s important for everyone to get out and vote because their future’s on the line,” she said.
Jeremy Bradley, 37, Melton campaign volunteer
Bradley, who pinned an Eddie Melton banner on the outer layer of his jacket, shared his message to people on Election Day: “Keep voting and pray to God that one day a change is going to come.”
Mothers and sons vote together at the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center
Susie Johnson, 83, and Geoffrey Johnson
After voting at the Gary Public Library on West Fifth Avenue, 83-year-old Susie Johnson cracked a joke about one change in the city she wanted to see: potholes fixed. Her son, Geoffrey Johnson, who accompanied her to the polls, said voting for him means a chance to “make your voice heard and make a difference.”
“People died for that right, so might as well exercise it, right?” he said.
Before stepping away, his mother agreed emphatically: “What he said!”
Pearl King, 89, and John King, 52
Pearl King and John King have lived in Gary their whole lives. They are voting today to have their voices heard about the changes they want to see in their community.
“I would like there to be just a better representation of education in the city. Public education, not necessarily charter, but public education,” John said.
“We used to have so many things, all the stores, we had the restaurants, all activities were very prevalent, but in years it has gone down. So we’re hoping that it will be revived,” Pearl said.
“The city has a lot of history. I’d just love to see it get back to what it was,” John added.
West Side High School
Deon Weathersby, 48
A 1992 West Side High School alumni, Weathersby returned to his alma mater today to cast his ballot on the issues he cares about most.
“Gary, we need a big push,” he said. “We need structure for the children, after-school programs, and more businesses.”
Weathersby said high schools like his were one of many back in his day, but the number has dwindled over time.
“Gary used to be a beautiful place back when I was growing up; schools were everywhere,” he said. “Now we have one high school.”
He concluded with a remixed slogan: “Make America great again? Make Gary great again!”
Nancy Miller-Hannah, 65, retired nurse
Nancy Miller-Hannah is excited and ready to see growth in Gary, where she’s lived her whole life.
“I love Gary,” Miller-Hannah said. “I could live anywhere I wanted to. I choose to live here in Gary, because I love this city.”
She voted at Pachter Park today because as a history buff, she grew up learning about the civil rights movement and the importance of voting.
“I remember Dr. King’s speeches and talking about us voting. When we get the right to vote, we have to vote.”
She said she looks forward to seeing more retail and grocery stores, and fewer abandoned buildings.
“We’re gonna see a refurbished Gary,” she said. “Yeah, it’s coming back.”
Chanda Dixon, 49
It’s not always easy to choose who to vote for.
For Chanda Dixon, a Gary resident for 20 years, it is important to look at a candidate’s character and who they are connected to. If they are a person of integrity and faith, they will win her support. The Chicago native said Gary’s her home, and a great community to live in, but she’s looking forward to seeing positive change after the election — not just lip service.
“You hear about it for so long, but hopefully this will be the person that will actually do that,” she said.
True Foundation Baptist Church
Michelle Pratchet, 53
Michelle Pratchet had a long day, but after a shift at Walmart and a doctor’s appointment, she found time to cast her ballot.
While Tuesday’s election included council seats, her focus was on the mayoral race. As her neighborhood block club’s president, Pratchet said she believes that state Sen. Eddie Melton will bring needed change to Gary and emphasized the community’s role in progress.
“As individuals, we need to come together and work with whoever’s going to be the leader. We have to do our part, too,” she said.
This story has been updated.