It's Not Political, It's Just Life

Political discourse without the spin.

Mayor Rudy Clay: The End of an Era

Mayor Rudy Clay-NWI Times

Mayor Rudy Clay [date unknown] – NWI Times

The former Mayor of Gary, Indiana, Rudy Clay, passed away on June 4, 2013 after a long bout with prostate cancer. He was 77 years old, but had the spirit of a much younger man. Mayor Clay loved his city, and worked diligently to help  get a deal through that our company was coordinating with him to benefit Gary and Chicago neglected neighborhoods, several years ago. He dropped out of the re-election race in 2011 because of the disease, but it had been affecting him prior to that time.  Gary won’t be the same without him. His homegoing services on June 12th were held at a filled to capacity Genesis Center, one of Gary’s crown jewels. It was a fitting place for his tribute.

Always dapper, articulate and persuasive, Mayor Clay was constantly seeking ways to improve the lives of his constituents. He was working on getting a memorial for Michael Jackson and the family built in the city along with Joseph Jackson and others. Always seeking the betterment of his people, Mayor Clay had a political career of ‘firsts’ that spanned 39 years.

English: Gary City Hall

English: Gary City Hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My business partner and I had the privilege of meeting with Mayor Clay a few times while he was still in office, about 6-7 years ago. We were seeking a solution for funding for the City of Gary, immediately after another drastic cut by the Indiana legislature. It was the first of several meetings, but he and my business partner hit it off immediately, because they were both wearing glen plaid suits, very subtle black-and-white, with white shirts and red/black/white ties. It was amazing, as if they’d called each other that morning. To make it worse, we arrived in our 2007 H2 SUT, to match Mayor Clay’s 2007 H3. From then on, they were hooked on each other, each seeking to take their people higher. Unfortunately, the deal fell through, but they still kept in touch.

Mayor Clay did everything in his power to improve Gary, but the Indiana State Legislature basically pulled the rug from under him when he first took office by cutting the state’s contribution to the city from property taxes. He refused to get rid of his security detail and his H3, as any mayor of a major city would be reluctant to do so. In office or out of office, Mayor Clay loved his people, and innovation. The Pathfinder, a 2011 plan to take Gary out of its economic crisis, was comprehensive and its implementation had begun, until he became too ill to continue. Hopefully, his successor, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, will take note and continue his great work.

To Mayor Clay’s family, although this is a delayed tribute, your neighbors in Chicago wish you well and that fond memories of the Mayor keep you and bless you. Now, the museum he was seeking for the Jacksons have to include his memorials as well. He was one of the last flaming fires of Black men in politics that were real, an example for us all. Rest in peace, Mayor Clay. You did your job exceptionally well.

Rudy Clay became mayor of Gary in 2006 when precinct captains voted him in after his  predecessor resigned. Health concerns forced him to drop his re-election bid in 2011. He  died Tuesday. (Chicago Tribune 2008 / March 6, 2008)

Rudy Clay became mayor of Gary in 2006 when precinct captains voted him in after his predecessor resigned. Health concerns forced him to drop his re-election bid in 2011. He died Tuesday. (Chicago Tribune 2008 / March 6, 2008)




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