Karen Freeman-Wilson

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson delivers her annual State of the City address in January.

GARY — Don't expect to see Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's name on a ballot again.

The Gary chief executive, whose bid for a third mayoral term ended last month in a Democratic primary defeat, told listeners to Hammond's WJOB-AM radio Monday she's through running for elected office.

"I don't envision myself in another public office during the course of my lifetime," Freeman-Wilson said.

In addition to eight years as Gary's mayor, the 58-year-old previously served six years as Gary's elected city judge, and lost a 2000 campaign for Indiana attorney general after being appointed as the state's top lawyer by Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon to complete the 11 months remaining in her predecessor's term.

"You're talking about 15 years of elected service, not to mention the appointed service because I was (Democratic Gov.) Evan Bayh's civil rights commissioner," Freeman-Wilson said.

"So I've served publicly and I've enjoyed it immensely, and there are other ways to serve."

The Gary native and Harvard Law School graduate said she's open to being appointed to a state or local board or commission, or asked to serve on the board of a volunteer or nonprofit organization.

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"In terms of running for elected office, I am comfortable with the record of service that I have given and look forward to other opportunities," Freeman-Wilson said.

At the same time, Freeman-Wilson declined to absolutely and permanently remove herself from consideration for elected office.

"I didn't say never, ever. But I don't see it. I do not see it," she said.

Freeman-Wilson, however, did rule out seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, if he ever decides to end his 35-year tenure in Congress, since she doesn't think she could accumulate the seniority required to be as effective as Visclosky.

Looking back over her years as mayor, Freeman-Wilson said her accomplishments include completing $40 million in street paving; pursuing an aggressive state legislative agenda, including casino relocation; purchasing more new fire and police equipment "than mayors in decades;" and tearing down more than 1,260 vacant and abandoned buildings — "and that's not cheap."

"At the time that we came in, no one knew how many vacant and abandoned buildings we had. Some people said it was 20,000, some 12,000," she said. "We quantified it and then said, 'OK, let's get to work.'"

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