Meet Gary, Indiana’s First Black Female Mayor

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Karen Freeman-WilsonKaren Freeman-Wilson, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former Indiana Attorney General, has the resume to lead any of America’s largest cits.

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Instead, she is mayor of Gary, Indiana, a Rust Belt city whose claim to fame is that it is the hometown of Michael Jackson. According to the Chicago Tribune, Freeman-Wilson’s new job will require her to draw from all of the intellectual acumen and professional know-how she has picked up throughout her political career.

Over the past three years, state-mandated tax caps have cut city tax revenue by more than half, to $30 million — $10 million less than last year and about what the city spent just on its police and fire departments in 2008.

Despite budget cuts by her predecessor that eliminated at least 100 city workers, an eroding tax base has prompted state auditors during the past two years to question whether Gary can “continue as a going concern.”

Though, according to the article, Freeman-Wilson seems to have the confidence of the people.

“In one word, it’s optimism,” said Walker. “People feel Karen is from the community and has prepared herself to lead the city. The first part of any turnaround is believing you’ve got someone who can lead the turnaround.”

Freeman-Wilson is part of a cadre of post-Civil Rights politicians (Cory Booker, Barack Obama, Deval Patrick) whose academic pedigree is traced to the Ivy Leagues. Do you feel more politicians like Freeman-Wilson are coming of age, making the landscape more fertile young black Americans to try their hand at the blood sport of political fisticuffs?

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