Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. Joins Ideas in Motion Media Roundtable to Talk Summer Events, City Hall, and Hammond Highlights

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. Joins Ideas in Motion Media Roundtable to Talk Summer Events, City Hall, and Hammond Highlights

Ideas in Motion Media and Publisher Chris Mahlmann welcomed Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. for the first mayoral interview in the new Great News Studio, designed and installed by the team at Steindler Signs. The interview touched on a number of items including events, politics, social media, and what to expect in Hammond as 2016 rolls along.

The two begin the conversation talking about all of the fun events and things to do here in Northwest Indiana, which led the interview into the direction of new developments in Hammond, including a newly-opened link of bike paths through the town.

“I am a cyclist so I like doing it for selfish reasons,” said McDermott. “But I’ll tell you I was riding down one of our trails yesterday and I must have seen fifty people going up and down. It makes me feel good because when I took over as mayor it was a wheat field and now it is a bike trail and people use it.”

mcdermott-interview-june-2016-2In talking about developments, the topic of Hammond’s City Hall arises. There is a movement in Hammond to focus on the downtown, where it has been proposed a new City Hall should be built in order to drive more people into downtown Hammond.

“The question is, ‘Are we - government - committed to downtown Hammond?’ or are we just going to let it continue to slide, as it has,” explained McDermott. “Downtown Hammond was a shopping mecca back in the ‘40’s, 50’s and 60’s, but I don’t remember it that way myself. I’ve only been around since ‘69.”

He continues,”My challenge to the City Council is, if we support downtown Hammond, then let’s back it up with our actions. Let’s move City Hall downtown - build a new one or renovate an old building. If we’re committed to it, let’s put our money where our mouth is.”

The conversation transitions to another topic near and dear to McDermott’s heart: politics. Specifically, the recent campaign featuring McDermott’s wife, Marissa, in her successful bid for the Lake Circuit Court Judge position.

mcdermott-interview-june-2016-3“I understand that politics is a contact sport - it is, let’s just be honest. When you get honored to get the office, it is all about public service. But to get to that point, you have to go through a process and it is an ugly process sometimes,” he said.

The next topic of conversation shifts to social media’s role in politics and how McDermott is the rare politician to fully embrace tools like Facebook and Twitter to get his message out to the public, free of any media interference.

“You are the media. I am part of the media now. I have my own column now, that’s the way I see it,” said McDermott. “Remember when people used to be misquoted? It doesn’t happen much anymore because if you get misquoted, you can go right to social media and say, ‘this guy totally spun my words a different way. This is exactly what I said, and this is what [this reporter] wrote.”

Social media is also influencing the next round of politicians by requiring a level of authenticity, as Mahlmann and McDermott discuss. The time where the “perfect politician” can come in and interact with people on a human level is disappearing because of social media. “If I was advising newly-elected officials, like I told Marissa, be yourself. Be authentic,” explained McDermott.

mcdermott-interview-june-2016-4They then talk about what is “authentically Hammond,” and places people can eat, drink, and be merry within the city like El Taco Real, The Lost Marsh, Harrison Park, Dowling Park, and more.

The conversation closes by previewing the City of Hammond’s Festival of the Lakes, one of the biggest festivals in Northwest Indiana. This year’s festival is looking bigger than ever and will be headlined by acts like Ludacris, Boyz II Men, Banda el Recodo, George Thorogood, Eli Young band and more.

“It’s going to be our biggest year yet and we have great acts every night,” said McDermott. “Every night is big this time.”

You can hear the whole conversation here, but also check out the video snippets below to see some of the interview’s highlights.

Video 1: Development in Hammond

Video 2: Social Media in Politics

Video 3: The State of Politics in Northwest Indiana

Video 4: What is "Authentically Hammond"?

Video 5: Festival of the Lakes