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Holcomb approves new laws for South Shore development, Gary schools takeover

Gov. Eric Holcomb

The claim of politicians needing to "reach across party lines" for the greater good is uttered so often that it's become cliche.

The phrase takes on far more meaning when a top government official actually puts the phrase to definitive practice.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has done that in spades during his first four months in office, and it showed Friday in the warm reception he received during a visit to Gary.

In our state's history, the relationship between the embattled Steel City and the state's Republican power base has been anything but harmonious.

Holcomb's style and responsiveness to our entire Region has completely torched the notion that top state government leaders don't care about Northwest Indiana.

The people of Gary sure seem to get it.

"The governor has done more for Northwest Indiana, from East Chicago to Gary, than any of his predecessors did," Greater First Church Bishop Tavis Grant said Friday during Holcomb's visit to downtown Gary.

The governor's visit came on the heels of him signing legislation for an emergency manager to take over the dilapidated finances and administration of Gary schools. It's widely seen as a lifeline for a district that has seemed to redefine rock bottom on a regular basis.

State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, who led efforts for the Gary schools measure, has applauded the governor's bipartisan approach.

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Holcomb also championed and signed legislation for South Shore Line commuter rail development, which in a greater sense is one of the largest potential economic development plans in state history.

And don't discount all of the face time Holcomb has shown in the Region, which historically has carried a dejected chip on its shoulder where chief Hoosier executives and the Legislature are concerned.

"He's only been governor four months, and he has probably been here more times than I would say a few of his predecessors put together," Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.

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Roads and infrastructure are vital to Region gubernatorial visits. They're also essential to nearly ever aspect of our state and Region's economy and quality of life.

Holcomb courageously supported the efforts — spearheaded by Indiana House Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso — to devise a long-term road funding plan. He did so even though the painful, but necessary, 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase was central to the plan.

The governor signed that roads measure into law and also approved a state budget with important finances for double-tracking a portion of the South Shore tracks for faster commutes.

Some Region folks stuck in outmoded thinking will no doubt continue espousing an "us versus them" mentality when it comes to Northwest Indiana's greater dealings with the rest of the state.

Don't buy it. Look at Holcomb's record, and directly at his face during his plethora of Region visits, as proof positive that someone in a major seat of authority cares about the Region we call home.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.