Your Voice, Your Vote: Pete Buttigieg (D)
Posted: May 1, 2015 2:13 PM EST | Updated: May 1, 2015 2:44 PM EST
As part of our Your Voice, Your Vote coverage, we reached out to the candidates. Each was asked three questions. Read the questions and their responses below.
These responses are from Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate for South Bend Mayor.
In the next 5 years, where should the city be economically, culturally and structurally?
South Bend is moving in the right direction. Over the last few years, our economy has added jobs, the unemployment rate in the city has gone down, and promising economic development projects are underway. We need to continue this upward trajectory. We will continue to work to create jobs and opportunity for everyone in South Bend.
Culturally, there is a renewed sense of pride in our community. The celebration of our city's 150th birthday (through SB 150) gives everyone a chance to see our history and realize our shared future. There is more vibrancy downtown and we have made sure to tell residents and visitors alike that South Bend is open and welcoming to all. Over the next five years, we will strive to be an open and inclusive community that celebrates diversity and cultural exchange.
Structurally, we have re-imagined South Bend. From vacant lots to parks to streets, we are building a community that is accessible and safe for everyone. The Smart Streets initiative will bring more life to downtown and corridors like Lincoln Way and Western are receiving significant upgrades. The Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative has already addressed more than 800 houses out of our target of 1,000 to rejuvenate our neighborhoods. Moreover, an ambitious parks plan has been put in motion to enhance the green spaces of South Bend so more children, families, and groups can live in a healthy environment.
Currently, what is the biggest problem facing the city of South Bend?
There's no question that every community has its challenges, including South Bend. We have addressed our challenges head on. Promoting safe neighborhoods has been a major effort in our administration. One of my first initiatives in office was to launch the "1,000 homes in 1,000 days" project. We were hearing from residents that vacant and blighted houses were huge problems because they can contribute to crime, become eyesores, and drive down property values. To date, we have addressed over 800 properties, either through rehabilitation or demolition. Vacant housing continues to be a challenge, but we are making steady progress to ensure that our residents live in safe, inclusive, and healthy neighborhoods.
Explain one new initiative you'd implement while in office.
In addition to continuing the vital work we have underway on vacant properties, community policing, downtown development, and other key areas, we can take on new challenges in a second term. One initiative that could make an enormous impact in South Bend would be to expand access to early childhood education opportunities. The years leading up to kindergarten are crucial for the development of the next generation, ultimately affecting everything from economic growth to safety and quality of life. If elected for a second term, I will work with community partners to seek ways to increase the number of children with access to pre-kindergarten education so that South Bend can become even stronger in the decades to come.