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While Gary was dealing with the polar vortex, I was shocked to hear about Councilwoman Lavetta Sparks-Wade being injured in an altercation at her home. My prayers are with Councilwoman Sparks-Wade, and I wish her a quick and speedy recovery.

The altercation that is alleged to have occurred between her and former Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington is yet another allegation in a string of accusations that have resulted in two misdemeanor convictions for Washington. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty under our criminal justice system. While I’ll make no comment on his innocence or guilt, something should be said about how the city of Gary will fare in the midst of all of this.

Gary is a gem nestled in the Calumet Region. To be sure, the gem could stand some polishing. However, when looking at its natural resources, beaches, historic neighborhoods and its proud people, surely it’s a gem. I have found when people come and explore the city they are amazed with what they find. New development is coming into the city. Amazon has a facility on the east side, and the surge in voter turnout in last year’s mid-term election has created an energy long missing from Gary.

Unfortunately, added is another Gary politician involved in some nefarious event. Washington had recently announced his candidacy for a Gary City Council at-large seat. The Merrillville resident seemingly moved to the city for that very purpose. When these events occur, it gives the city a black eye. At a time where Gary is trying to reinvent herself, news must switch from the positive to address allegations and innuendoes. I expect more.

Gary deserves better leadership and better candidates for leadership. I expect more. While some candidates and elected officials seem to believe it’s their birthright to be elected, it’s not. Simply being elected to various offices in the past or having a long political resume are not qualifications for office. Disagreeing for the sake of being disagreeable does not make one a leader.

Political aspirants rush to condemn plans, but “No” is not an idea or a plan; it’s the rejection of one. To rebuild Gary, it will take bold moves and new ideas. It’s often said that “you get out what you put in.” To build a better Gary, it will take better candidates. It will take listening to residents, investors and expatriates, and working hard to address their concerns. It will take accountability for mismanagement. It will take demolition and budget cuts. But what Gary can no longer take is being misused or abused for political gain. I expect more. Gary requires more.

James Brandon Dillon is a Gary resident and owner of the Dillon Law Firm. He is a former Lake County prosecutor and Gary police officer. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.