Gary Mayor Scott King resigns

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GARY, Ind. (AP) - Scott King, who left the Democratic Party in April 2005 and declared himself an independent, announced Thursday he is resigning as mayor of Gary after 11 years in office.

King's resignation comes three days after he appointed former Calumet Township Trustee Dozier Allen Jr. as deputy mayor, spurring speculation that King would resign.

The speculation turned out to be accurate on Thursday, as King announced his resignation - effective Friday - at a City Hall news conference.

The move leaves Allen, who ran for mayor in the Democratic primary in 1975 against Richard Hatcher, as interim mayor.

King, who in 1995 became the first white mayor in 28 years in the predominantly black city, had easily won re-election two times.

But speculation about his political future began shortly after 2003, when word of his split with former adviser Jewell G. Harris became public and three city officials, including Deputy Mayor Geraldine Tousant, were indicted on charges of lying to federal investigators looking into Lake County corruption. The speculation grew when he declared himself an independent.

"It's essentially impossible for any non-Democrat to win in Gary," said Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of the weekly newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight. "He would have faced a real uphill fight in 2007 unless he formed a very interesting coalition. It was an indication he might not have been interested in running again. He's been there for a while and politics in the region takes a toll on you."

King has led Gary, which has just more than 100,000 residents, during some difficult economic times. He has been working, with help at times from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, to try to make the Gary airport Chicago's third airport.

He also has battled at times with the City Council over how funds from the city's casinos should be used. He also attracted the Miss USA pageant to Gary for two years in hopes of enhancing the city's reputation.

Feigenbaum said King will be hard to replace.

"He built the credibility, he had established a sense of competence and he also built some personal relationships with Mayor Daley in Chicago and Gov. Daniels that will take anyone else some time to establish," he said. "There seems to be a natural suspicion by folks in Indianapolis about what happens in the region and to politics in the area."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)