It goes without saying that if anyone knows how former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg governs, it would be the residents of the small town.
A remarkable thing about Buttigieg surging in the 2020 Democratic primary isn’t so much that he’s an openly gay candidate as it is that he’s 38 years old and was mayor of a town of just over 100,000 people — not exactly stellar qualifications to prepare a person for the most powerful office on Planet Earth.
And residents in that town are not exactly overflowing with praise for the candidate, be it over street lights or violent crime.
Michelle Burger, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom who lives on the impoverished and predominantly black West Side of the city, sounded a dire warning, according to the New York Post.
“If he’s the next president, I fear for our country,” Burger said. “He couldn’t run our city. How can he run the United States?”
“Look at all the crime, he didn’t do anything about it,” she added. “Look at our quality of life. If he becomes president, the United States will become one big South Bend — a giant sinkhole. We’ll be in a new depression.”
Buttigieg’s support among black Americans is often described as “anemic,” meaning he has little, if any.
Cornish Miller, 62, a West Side resident employed by a military supply company, said Buttigieg had little impact in South Bend.
“Rating him 1 to 10, I’d give him a 2,” Miller declared. “Buttigieg talked about all the improvements he made, but he hardly made a dent.”
“The West Side is the most neglected part of town,” he charged. “The street I live on is the only street around here that has lights — that’s because we are a gateway to Notre Dame.”
Citing FBI data showing violent crimes surged from 622 in 2012, Buttigieg’s first year in office, to 1,088 in 2018, the Post reported that some South Bend residents describe Buttigieg’s tenure as a nightmare.
“We had a record number of homicides during his time as mayor, and it didn’t seem like he was feeling the people’s psychological, emotional and spiritual needs,” Rev. Sylvester Williams Jr., of the Interfaith Christian Union, told the paper.
“It seemed like he was focused on creating a progressive city,” he added, “That he was above tending to those basic needs.”
Councilman Henry Davis Jr., reportedly one of Buttigieg’s fiercest critics, claimed he was an “inept” mayor filled with ambition, who “always had one foot out the door.”
Buttigieg’s six-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2014 and a failed try at heading up the Democratic National Committee in 2017 were cited, according to the Post.
“And then he came back and takes off again and wants to be president of the United States,” Davis said.
Davis did run against Buttigieg in 2015, coming up short, but he said that as mayor, Buttigieg was never really committed to the community.
“It’s always been a gateway to something that he believed was larger,” he asserted.
Among Buttigieg’s successes detailed in the article are the development of new hotels, restaurants and apartments, and improved city parks.
Another reported plus is “a $21 million, pedestrian-friendly ‘Smart Streets’ plan that reduced speed limits, made one-way streets two-way, created roundabout intersections, planted sidewalk trees and installed decorative brick sidewalk pavers in the downtown.”
On that note, the former Vice President put out a brutal ad earlier this month mocking Buttigieg’s experience as mayor of South Bend, contrasting that with Biden’s record.
One such example stated that both candidates “helped shape our economy,” noting that Biden “helped save the auto industry … and led the passage and implementation of the recovery act, saving our economy from a depression.”
Then added: “Pete Buttigieg revitalized the sidewalks of downtown South Bend by laying out decorative brick.”
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