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Steve Mays sets out action plans for members to get involved

NAACP issues calls for action

Contributed By:The 411 News

2020 elections, census, economic development in Gary

“It’s time to stop voting for your friends” was one of the challenges Steve Mays put to fellow members of the Gary Branch Chapter of the NAACP at its recent meeting. “In 2020, we’ve got the elections and the census. The intermodal port in Gary is going to be a billion dollar deal, the biggest project in the state.”

“And, this community is not working; we don’t have our share of contracts, our share of jobs,” Mays, the chapter president said. “I want all hands on deck.”

Although Wednesday’s meeting agenda highlighted membership, new members were welcomed and plaques presented to NAACP Life Members, the rollout of committees to address political, economic and social issues took center stage.

Thomas Newsome is a Gary Community Schools Corporation teacher and heads the committee on political action. “I’m not against charter schools, but the state is proposing a 10.3 percent raise for charter school teachers and only a 2 percent raise for teachers in traditional public schools.” Newsome said teachers in Gary haven’t had a raise in 10 years and Indiana ranks 51st in the country for raising teacher salaries.

“We want to mimic what the NAACP state and national levels are doing,” Newsome added. “We go downstate and lobby our legislators, although they try to sneak out the back door. We’re determined to do what we need to do.”

The chapter is watching the appointment of the next judge on the Lake County Superior Court. Governor Eric Holcomb will select 1 of three nominees to fill the vacancy of Judge John Pera who retired in June. Nominees are Lake Circuit Court Magistrate Lisa A. Berdine, Town Court of Merrillville Judge Gina L. Jones, and Lake Superior Court Magistrate Michael N. Pagano.

Linda Peterson asked members to join in the chapter’s voter registration and voter education campaigns. The chapter will issue a Voters’ Report Card tracking city council members, county council members, and state representatives’ positions on issues.

“I need your time, your talent, your treasure. The days are over when we come here and hear just what we want to hear, and what sounds good,” Mays said. “We’re going to do phone banking, calling our legislators, and emailing. The only way to get accountability is to be a part of it.”

Improving the education climate in Gary and Merrillville is another objective of the chapter. “We will support our teachers and our students. We want to stop the school-to-prison pipeline. Merrillville is bad, but Gary is worse,” Mays said.

NAACP Membership Chair Darian Collins presents Gold Life Membership Plaque to Norman Bailly

Story Posted:08/24/2019

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