MICHIGAN CITY — For the first time in 44 years, Michigan City has elected a Republican mayor.
Duane Parry unseated incumbent Mayor Ron Meer in Tuesday’s election by just 76 votes.
“It’s long overdue,” Parry said Tuesday while doing a victory lap at American Legion Skwiat Post 451. “Michigan City has been struggling for years. And I hope that someday the public will look back on my time as mayor as the reformation of Michigan City, when we brought the town back.”
The final numbers showed Parry with 1.639 votes or 29.9 percent of the 5,490 votes cast in the mayor's race. Meer finished with 1,563 votes or 28.5 percent. The Rev. Damon Carnes received 1,467 votes (26.7 percent), and James LaRocco captured 821 votes (14. 9 percent).
Parry said the major focus going into his term as mayor will be to reprioritize Riverboat Fund spending, and to focus more on the city’s residents than has been done in the past.
“I’m going to light Michigan City up,” he said. “The Westside, the Eastside, the neighborhoods that need help are going to get it.”
Parry said he anticipates he’ll have to “walk in cold” without much help transitioning from the current mayor.
Meer said as much Tuesday night when he addressed the media from his headquarters at the old Elston Zip convenience store, noting the two have different styles.
“I’d say we disagreed on a lot more than we ever agreed on,” he said of Parry, who was the 5th Ward representative to the Michigan City Common Council during Meer’s first term as mayor from 2012-2015.
“… His style is completely different than mine. I talk about the future and progression. I think he talks about how the city was great in the Sixties and the Seventies. And we did have some great times, there’s no doubt about that; but I’m not sure we want to go back.”
But Meer expressed congratulations toward Parry and wished good luck to “everyone in Michigan City.”
He said he’s proud of what his administration accomplished during his eight years as mayor; and looks forward to seeing a thriving Michigan City decades from now thanks, in part, to his contribution.
As for his next steps, the mayor said, “I have some things that I have to work on for my future. The future of my family is important to me, and that’s what I’m going to do. That will be my focus now.”
Meer met with the media to answer some questions about the circumstances leading up to the election, including the Oct. 10 arrest of his adult stepson on drugs and gun charges, and the subsequent criminal charges filed against the mayor last week.
“In was – in my opinion – political sabotage,” Meer said. “Or as my attorney, Scott King, has said, a ‘hatchet job.’ It’s easy to see through, in my opinion. And I believe that I’ll be exonerated of all the false charges anyway.”
Meer is charged with six Level 6 felonies – one for official misconduct and five for intimidation – stemming from a directive he reportedly gave to former police chief Mark Swistek to reassign the Michigan City Police officers who worked with the La Porte County Drug Task Force to arrest the mayor’s stepson. All three police chiefs subsequently resigned and have been replaced.