Campaign News

‘Gary will rise from the ashes’: State Sen. Melton unseats Gary mayor

May 02, 2023

GARY — State Sen. Eddie Melton has unseated Gary Mayor Jerome Prince.

Unofficial election results showed Melton won with just under 61% of the vote.

“I just received a call from Mayor Jerome Prince. He congratulated me,” Melton told a cheering crowd around 9:30, Tuesday evening. “Thank you Gary!”

Melton said he and Prince have agreed to sit down and discuss the city’s progress in the coming weeks. Prince was not available for comment Tuesday evening.

“We are a city of innovators, entrepreneurs, leaders and problem solvers. What we accomplish tonight will change the trajectory of the city,” Melton told the some 200 attendees that filled the Diamond Center at U.S. Steel Yard Stadium. “Gary will rise from the ashes to become a beacon of light.”

Melton will compete against Republican Andrew Delano, who is unopposed in the GOP primary, at the Nov. 7 general election for a four-year term as Gary mayor. After declaring victory, Melton urged Gary residents to register to vote, noting that even though Gary has historically been a Democratic city, nothing is “guaranteed.”

Prince pulled off an upset victory in 2019, unseating incumbent Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson, the city’s first female mayor. Born and raised in Gary, Prince enlisted in the U.S. marines after high school. His long career includes time as a Gary Common Councilman, a precinct committeeman and as a Lake County Councilman. In 2014, Prince was elected Lake County Assessor.

Prince’s 2019 mayoral campaign was built around “reimagining” the Steel City. Throughout the past three years, Prince has been focused on helping the city navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, allocating much of the $80.3 million of American Rescue Plan Act money Gary was awarded and launching a youth summer employment program.

According to Prince’s campaign website, the incumbent administration has been able to pay down about $7 million of the city’s long-term debt, improve public safety through the Operation Safe Zone security camera initiative and demolish over 200 blighted buildings.

Melton announced his mayoral campaign in November with the slogan “Gary Deserves Better NOW,” with “NOW” standing for “No Opportunities Wasted.” The state senator said he was running for mayor because he has grown frustrated with the lack of progress in his hometown.
His platform has been built around creating an updated master plan for the city with a specific vision for each neighborhood.

In 2019, Melton launched a bid for governor but dropped out of the race after just four months because he was unable to raise enough money. He has served the Indiana State Senate as assistant minority leader and is currently the ranking minority member on the Appropriations and State Budget Committee. He has also sat on a number of boards and commissions including the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, the State Board of Education, the American Association of Blacks in Energy, the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators and as deputy chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.

“If we work together, Gary will have the greatest comeback story in this nation,” Melton said Tuesday evening.

“We continue to not have a plan with development and we allow developers to come in and tell use where they want to go,” Melton said during an April debate.