South Bend Mayoral Candidates make final push to voters
While there are nine candidates on the ballot, six candidates are still vying for the Democratic nomination.
Ahead of Tuesday’s election, ABC57 spoke to those candidates about why they think they’re the best person to lead the city.
James Mueller worked as Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s chief of staff and executive director of community investment for the city before he entered the race.
With Mayor Pete’s endorsement, Mueller says he wants to continue the current administration’s progress by focusing on universal access to Pre-K by 2025, rebuilding and reimagining South Bend neighborhoods, and lowering barriers to opportunity.
“I have a plan for the future that I have written down and shared with the community in advance of the election,” said Mueller. “I’ll be ready on day one and won’t skip a beat.”
Former South Bend police officer and current community liaison at Memorial Hospital, Lynn Coleman, says his community roots will propel South Bend.
If elected, Coleman wants to improve the city’s schools, develop neighborhoods, address crime, and work on the city’s human capital.
“We have to create a climate where our best of the best are not looking and finding ways to get away from the community, but trying to stay here,” said Coleman. “If we can fix those things… that would be a huge step in making this community a different community.”
Oliver Davis is a member of the South Bend Common Council seeking to become the 33rd mayor of South Bend.
The 6th district representative says he will fix issues that come before his administration like infrastructure, schools, and homelessness.
“They have somebody who is going to be here, who understands issues, has the experience and the education, and must of all, who is willing to listen,” said Davis. “I am a person who has been out there and listening way before this election.”
Richard Wright currently works with the Downtown South Bend ambassadors program.
As mayor, Wright says fair housing and getting rid of bad landlords is his top priority.
“Housing is a basic necessity like food and water,” said Wright. “There’s a business problem here. We don’t have a lot of factories, we have a lot of retail [jobs] that pay low wages. I want to see some of those higher wage jobs here.”
Jason Critchlow is a senior project manager for a clinical research company and the former chairman of the St. Joseph County Democratic Party.
As mayor, Critchlow wants to improve and support South Bend schools, invest in the city’s neighborhoods, and tackle crime.
He believes a focus on those issues will continue to build what he calls the city’s current progress.
“You have to have the right vision for the city, number two, you have to have the ability to execute that vision, and number three, you have to be able to go out and speak to the community,” said Critchlow. “I’m the only candidate that checks all three of those boxes.”
Regina Williams-Preston is a teacher and a member of the South Bend Common Council representing the second district.
If elected, she wants to better South Bend neighborhoods and schools. Williams-Preston adds her administration would focus on the 54% of residents living pay check to pay check by creating economic policies that bring jobs with living wages to all people living in South Bend.
“We can use these processes to make sure that we’re for example, reducing violence by building peace,” said Williams-Preston. “When we have connections with one another, we’re able to find alternatives, we’re able to work with one another.”
Voters will find nine Democratic mayoral candidates on the ballot on Tuesday, however, Shane Inez dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Williams-Preston. Salvador Rodriguez dropped out over the weekend and endorsed Critchlow.
Will Smith also remains on the ballot, but he hasn’t actively campaigned or returned ABC57’s requests for comment since his theft arrests in March.