Friday, January 14, 2011

Clay to seek another term as Gary mayor


GARY -- A spirited Mayor Rudy Clay cited his experience and the "need for continuity in Gary" in announcing Thursday he will seek a second full term in office.

Clay, 75, who headed the city through some of its most daunting fiscal challenges, described his job as among the toughest in the country and told a roomful of supporters and department heads that Gary needs experience like his.

"Gary needs a continuity, needs a mayor that's been in the cockpit with financial turbulence over here or one financial wing operating over here," he said to applause.

"There is no training school for mayor. The best training school I know is to be the mayor of Gary for four or five years."

As he has often done over his four years in office, Clay pointed to problems he said were left over by his predecessor, former Mayor Scott King, citing a $4.5 million Northern Indiana Public Service Co. electric bill, a $900,000 water bill and other bloated expenditures.

Clay also said expansion plans for the Gary/Chicago International Airport and a $22 million plant expansion for U.S. Steel are under way.

He also said his advisers plan to roll out a long-term property tax restoration and intermodal transportation plan in the next month.

And, without mentioning a state mandate to cut costs in return for relief for property tax caps, Clay also said his administration has enjoyed success in cutting budgets and trimming expenses.

"We instantly began reducing spending, reducing salaries and using cost-saving measures all around," he said. "We've been working, and the fact of the matter is we never stop working for the people of Gary."

Just one day before going on his second trip to the state's Distressed Unit Appeals Board to seek relief, Clay called his administration's pleas to the board "creative," adding the city will be prepared to deal with "a streamlined government" when it can no longer seek relief in 2012.

Clay also dismissed rumors and questions about his health circulating throughout the city.

"God has blessed me to look and feel and gave me the energy of when I was 33 years old," he said to applause. "I enjoy a wealth of health and plan on a vigorous campaign."

Just as in the last mayoral election, Clay will face a full slate of opponents.

City Councilwoman At-Large Ragen Hatcher and former city judge Karen Freeman-Wilson have announced plans to run against him.

Jack Lieske, former Child Protective Services supervisor LaVetta Sparks-Wade and Lester Lowe have also jumped into the mayor's race.

The filing period opens later this month.

View the original article here

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