This morning, the South Bend Tribune announced that Pete Buttigieg will not be seeking a third term as Mayor of South Bend. “When my present term in office comes to a close a year and two weeks from now, at the end of 2019, I will not be seeking a third term as mayor,” he said, leaving open the possibility of announcing his future plans later this month.
Born and raised in South Bend, Pete Buttigieg graduated from Harvard and went on to receive a first class honors degree from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He was a policy and research specialist on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and served as an advisor to Jill Long Thompson’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign.
Buttigieg then worked for prominent international strategic consulting firms before returning home to run for mayor. He was elected in November 2011, at age 29, with 74 percent of the vote. In 2014, he served seven months as a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserves in Afghanistan for 7 months, winning re-election the following year with an astounding 80 percent of the vote.
“Mayor Pete” was elected mayor of South Bend in 2011 with 74% of the vote, in 2015 with 80.5%, and has enjoyed widespread popularity throughout his tenure.
On June 16, 2015, Buttigieg made international headlines when he came out in an essay for the South Bend Tribune:
“It’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about [being gay] could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.”
Andre Adeyemi, Victory Institute Board Liaison and Executive Assistant to Mayor Annise Parker, has a personal connection to South Bend City Hall. “I was Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Executive Assistant and Director of Special Projects, Body Man, driver/right hand from 2014-2016. Working for Pete was amazing because his drive to make. South Bend better pushed all city staff to raise their bar on service provided to residents. South Bend was once regarded as a dying city. Thanks to Mayor Pete’s leadership the city population has increased, downtown South Bend has seen a construction renaissance and investment dollars have strengthened the economy.”
These accomplishments contributed to Buttigieg’s growing national profile. President Obama called him one of the most “gifted” politicians in the Democratic Party in an interview with the New Yorker Magazine, November 2, 2016. And in his June 12, 2016 New York Times column, Frank Bruni speculated that Buttigieg could be America’s first gay president.
Today’s announcement has unleashed a firestorm of speculation about Buttigieg’s next steps. We look forward to Buttigieg’s accomplishments in the remaining year of his term and any decisions to come.