2015 South Bend, Indiana mayoral election

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South Bend mayoral election, 2015
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← 2011 November 3, 2015 2019 →
  PeteButtigieg (1).JPG 3x4.svg
Candidate Pete Buttigieg Kelly Jones
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 8,515 2,074
Percentage 80.41% 19.59%

Mayor before election

Pete Buttigieg

Elected Mayor

Pete Buttigieg

The 2015 South Bend, Indiana mayoral election was held on November 3, 2015. The election was won by the incumbent mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who was reelected with more than 80 percent of the votes, defeating Republican Kelly Jones.[1]

The election coincided with races for the Common Council and for South Bend City Clerk.[2]


Primaries were held May 5.[3]

Democratic primary[edit]

Incumbent mayor Pete Buttigieg filed to run for reelection on January 19.[4] Buttigieg campaigned for renomination upon the progress made during his first term as mayor.[5] This included declining unemployment, new development in the city's downtown, ongoing infrastructure improvements (including the city's "Smart Streets" initiative).[5][6] He also noted recent economic development announcements by the city that promised to generate $180 million in new investment and up to 1,400 new jobs.[5] The prior year had seen the announcement of 1,349 new jobs.[7] Another of his administrations accomplishments which Buttigieg noted was the ahead-of-schedule Vacant & Abandoned Properties Initiative, which sought to either renovate or demolish 1,000 abandoned homes.[7][8]

Buttigieg's opponent was outgoing 2nd district South Bend Common Council member Henry Davis.[5] Davis was critical of Buttigieg's policies, which he claimed were inadequate at addressing the city's problems.[5] He criticized Buttigieg's record on crime, vacant housing, financial management, government transparency, and economic development.[3][9] He was also critical of Buttigieg's handling of a police department scandal involving wiretapping by former police chief Darryl Boykins.[5] In addition, he accused Buttigieg of directing no-bid contracts to political allies and donors.[5] Davis' candidacy faced scandals, including headlines of his past DUI arrest.[10]

Originally also challenging Buttigieg was businessman David Frank.[11] He was removed from the ballot by the election board due to irregularities with his residency.[12]

In the primary Buttigieg carried 60 of the city's 65 precincts.[13] Davis carried four precincts in his own 2nd district (which he had represented in the South Bend Common Council since 2008) and one precinct in the neighboring 6th district.[13] Davis, an African American himself, performed competitively with Buttigieg, and in some cases stronger than Buttigieg, in several largely African American neighborhoods.[10]

Democratic primary results[14][13]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg (incumbent) 8,369 77.68%
Democratic Henry L. Davis, Jr. 2,405 22.32%
Total votes 10,774

Republican primary[edit]

Kelly Jones was unopposed in the Republican primary.[5]

Jones was a jewelry maker who had previously run unsuccessfully for a school board seat.[15] She had first considered running for mayor as a Democrat before running as a Republican. [15]

Originally Frank Curry was also running for the nomination, but was removed from the ballot due to irregularities with his residency address.[12]

Republican primary results[14]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kelly S. Jones 650 100.00%
Total votes 650

General election[edit]

In the midst of his reelection effort, Buttigieg came out as gay in a June 2015 op-ed published in the South Bend Tribune.[16][17] This came only a month after he had secured the Democratic nomination in the primary.[10]

By the end of September, Buttigieg's administration's Vacant & Abandoned Properties Initiative had met its goal of either renovating or demolishing 1,000 abandoned homes two months ahead of its 1,000 day deadline.[18][19]

Buttigieg summed up the progress the city had made in his first term by declaring that, “In just four years, the debate over whether the city is dying is over,” while also declaring that, “our work isn’t done”.[15]

Among the groups endorsing Buttigieg was the South Bend Regional Chamber[20] and the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce.[21]

Jones offered praise for many of Buttigieg's accomplishments as mayor, and also praised his choice for the city's new police chief.[15] However, she offered criticism, including for his "Smart Streets" program and efforts to expand bike lanes.[15] During her campaign she also criticized the city's handling of the sale of the former College Football Hall of Fame building to a local developer, arguing that the city received too little in exchange for the site.[22] Buttigieg defended his Smart Street initiative and the sale of the former College Football Hall of Fame building from Jones' criticisms, once saying, "Taxpayers will benefit from a deal that brings $10 million in private investment to the empty Hall of Fame, while Smart Streets is already generating economic growth."[22]

Jones received little formal support from the Republican Party organization and lacked a strong campaign organization of her own.[15] Jones' major platform issue was to provide more housing for South Bend's homeless.[23]

Compared to his previous election, Buttigieg underperformed in some of western South Bend's heavily African American precincts.[10] Some of these precincts, which in 2011 had given him some of his greatest levels of support, gave him some of his weakest results in the 2015 election.[10]

General election results[14][24]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg (incumbent) 8,515 80.41%
Republican Kelly S. Jones 2,074 19.59%
Total votes 10,589


  1. ^ Peterson, Mark (November 3, 2015). "South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg wins re-election". WNDU-TV. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Bell, Kyle W. (5 May 2015). "South Bend Municipal Primary Election Results 2015". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b Bell, Kyle W. (5 May 2015). "Buttigieg Defeats Henry Davis Jr. in South Bend Mayoral Primary". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  4. ^ "South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg files for re-election". WNDU. 19 January 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Blasko, Erin (April 19, 2015). "Pete Buttigieg and Henry Davis Jr. square off in South Bend mayor's race". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  6. ^ Bell, Kyle W. (4 May 2015). "South Bend Mayoral Candidate Q&A". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b "South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg files for re-election". WNDU. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  8. ^ "MAYORS ON THE RISE: PETE BUTTIGIEG". Nation Swell. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  9. ^ Davis, Henry (3 May 2019). "Meet the Candidates: Henry Davis Jr., South Bend Mayor". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e Doherty, Tucker (8 July 2019). "Pete Buttigieg lost black support between 2 mayoral runs, data shows". Politico. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  11. ^ Blasko, Erin (7 February 2015). "Henry Davis Jr. files to run for South Bend mayor". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  12. ^ a b Blasko, Erin (19 February 2019). "Frank, Curry removed from ballot in South Bend". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Bell, Kyle W. (7 May 2015). "What Does Electoral Victory Look Like? Visualizing Buttigieg's Win". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  14. ^ a b c "Historical Election Results". Indiana.gov Voter Portal. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Coldwell, Jack (11 October 2015). "Colwell: A difficult climb for GOP mayoral nominee without support, money". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  16. ^ Buttigieg, Pete (June 16, 2015). "South Bend Mayor: Why coming out matters". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  17. ^ Lerner, Adam B. (16 June 2015). "South Bend mayor comes out as gay in editorial". Politico. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Goal of '1,000 Homes in 1,000 Days' initiative met". WNDU-TV. 22 September 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  19. ^ Blasko, Erin (23 September 2019). "South Bend reaches vacant and abandoned housing goal". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  20. ^ "2015 ENDORSEMENTS". South Bend Regional Chamber. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  21. ^ Bell, Kyle W. (16 April 2015). "Chamber of Commerce Endorses South Bend Candidates". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  22. ^ a b Stopczynski, Kelli (11 May 2015). "Republican candidate for South Bend Mayor already in campaign mode". WSBT. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  23. ^ Gallagher, Shaun (7 October 2015). "Mayor Buttigieg and challenger Kelly Jones face off in debate". WNDU. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  24. ^ "South Bend, IN Mayor". Our Races. Retrieved 1 May 2019.