“It’s hard to be in Gary and not be involved in politics.”
This story is part of our Flight Paths initiative. Produced by Rebecca Werner with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. www.storycorps.org
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Transcript for Hatcher Voting Bloc
I didn’t run for mayor because Dad had been mayor. I ran for mayor because I felt like we needed somebody who wasn’t interested in the side deals and the backroom talks, and just somebody who actually cared about the city, you know, and that was willing to make the right choices, even if they were hard choices.
In 2007, one of the at-large council persons vacated, and so Dad kept calling me. “Ragen, you have to go sign up to run for council at-large.” And I kept saying, “Dad, I don’t think that the people in this community want us in office.” And so he said, “Oh, Babe, that’s not true.”
And it seemed to energize the base that was always there for your father. People saw in you a continuation of that legacy of fighting for what’s right, and being principled, and being honest, and being there for the people of the city of Gary. That’s a legacy population.
We always knew that we had this voting bloc. We call it the Hatcher Voting Bloc. It’s seven to eight thousand people here in the community, and that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you only have seventeen thousand coming out to vote, seven thousand votes is a lot of votes, and I think that bloc is still there.
After I was on the council from ’07 to ’11, I ran for mayor. I knew that I didn’t want to sit on the city council anymore because I couldn’t get anything accomplished. The mayor had such a strong voting bloc on the council. At that time when I ran for mayor, we were winning, you know, we were up. But the current mayor announced that he was dropping out of the race. That was simply a way for them to combine their votes. So, my voting bloc was still there, but in a three-way race, my voting bloc was on top. But in a two-way race, of course, we were outgunned probably by about two thousand votes.
You know, after that I said, “Hey, I’ve given it my best shot.” I felt like I was finished with politics in Gary. But it’s hard to be in Gary and not be involved in politics. When it was time to have another city-wide election, I said, “Ugh, I’ll throw my hat back in the ring.” I ran for council. I came in first in every district, including Miller, which was—is a predominantly white community. There are many people who were unhappy with Dad because of white flight and businesses leaving, but for whatever reason, they felt like I was ok.