Gary, Ind., next month will welcome its first ever female mayor. And with the new administration comes new changes for the troubled city.
The woman who will next month become Gary, Indiana's first female mayor named the first round of appointees in her administration Thursday morning.
Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilson tapped Delvert Cole for Deputy Mayor and B.R. Lane as her chief of staff. Both, she said, were chosen for their "integrity, vision and sense of service."
"We are all working to deliver government and we're all going to keep the citizens first in all of our decision-making," she said.
Cole is a former Indiana State Trooper. Lane is, like the mayor-elect, a Harvard Law graduate.
"I believe that we have, as a team, as a community, we have what it takes to meet those challenges," said Lane.
As mayor, Freeman-Wilson promises to tackle problems plaguing the city, including a spike in robberies and burglaries. The state's first female African American mayor-elect said she wants to bring transportation development to the dwindling downtown area, along with retail, senior housing and restaurants.
"If I say I'm going to do something, I need to do that," she said.
Even code enforcement employees said they're on board and ready to get those initiatives going.
"It's all about putting the structure back into the city and that's why we started hitting with the business licenses because we want the businesses to know that we're out here and [they're] going to do it right," said Samantha Carter.
In addition to Cole and Lane, Freeman-Wilson said the Acting Chief of Police Anthony Stanley and Acting Fire Chief Donald Williamson are staying on. Corporation Counsel Niquelle Allen, Director of General Services Cozi Weatherspoon and Controller Celita Green are all locked in.
A search committee has already made recommendations for permanent police and fire chiefs at a time when the police department, in particular, has had difficulties.
Freeman-Wilson said she's also going to have an open-door policy and offer 15 minutes discussion time for anyone who wants it.
The Democrat garnered 86 percent of the vote, far ahead of her nearest competitor, an independent who received 7.5 percent, in November's election.