Smith’s mayoral bid a call to action
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com June 1, 2014 10:14PM
Supporters of Sy Smith stand on the front stairs of the old Emerson High School with Smith to discuss on what needs to change in Gary. |Dan Shelton/Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2014 6:08AM
GARY — The trees in front of the shuttered Emerson School were decorated with posters reading “Imagine Gary if ...” and full of aspirations for the beleaguered city: turning abandoned buildings into community centers for youth, regaining population, and developing a Michael Jackson museum to generate tourism dollars.
It was the setting for Syron “Sy” Smith’s Sunday afternoon announcement that he is running for mayor next year. Smith, a community activist, said it was more than a political announcement, but a call to action: “Change Gary Now.”
“This town does not have to die,” Smith said. “Let’s put our children on the pathway to success.”
It’s not Smith’s first foray into politics. He ran for the Chicago’s 15th Ward Alderman post in 2010, when he was a resident of the Englewood neighborhood. Though Smith said he resided in Gary’s Glen Park neighborhood as of 2003, it is unclear if he is currently a Gary resident.
Smith and wife, Jamika, have run the National Block Club University, a 501(c)3, for almost 15 years. It helps direct youth away from crime-ridden streets and into career clubs. For example, students in the construction club have helped rebuild porches for the elderly in some communities, fostering new and productive relationships, Smith said.
Smith said that he plans to meet with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson soon about implementing the block club concept as a preventative measure before police use sweeps in the streets.
“There is a good reason that police do street sweeps, but there are preventative measures and resources to reach people before that point,” he said.