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Pete Buttigieg

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Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg - 33249197628 (cropped).jpg
32nd Mayor of South Bend
Assumed office
January 1, 2012
Preceded bySteve Luecke
Personal details
Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg

(1982-01-19) January 19, 1982 (age 37)
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Chasten Glezman (m. 2018)
FatherJoseph Buttigieg
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Pembroke College, Oxford (BA)
WebsiteGovernment website
Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service2009–2017
UnitUnited States Navy Reserve
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan

Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg[1] ( /ˈbtɪə/ BOOT-ih-jəj;[2][3] born January 19, 1982) is an American politician and former Naval Intelligence Officer who has served as the mayor of the city of South Bend, Indiana since 2012.

Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University, having attended Pembroke College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. From 2007 to 2010 he worked at McKinsey and Company, a management strategy consulting firm.[4] From 2009 to 2017 Buttigieg served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant and deploying for the War in Afghanistan in 2014.[5][6]

Buttigieg was first elected mayor of South Bend in 2011 and was reelected in 2015. During his tenure as mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg's policies were widely credited with significantly spurring economic growth and business investment. Buttigieg also campaigned for Indiana State Treasurer in 2010 and for chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, losing both elections.

On April 14, 2019, Buttigieg formally announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2020 after having formed an exploratory committee in January 2019.[7][8][9] His platform includes support for universal healthcare, reducing income inequality, pro-environmental policies, dialogue and cooperation between the Democratic Party and organized labor, universal background checks for firearms purchases, federal legislation that would ban job discrimination against LGBT people, and preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for children of immigrants. Buttigieg also supports removing the influence of lobbyists from government, favoring reforms that would overturn Citizens United and end gerrymandering.[10][11]

Early life and education

Buttigieg was born in South Bend, Indiana, to Jennifer Anne (née Montgomery) and Joseph Buttigieg. His father, an immigrant from Ħamrun, Malta, initially studied to be a Jesuit priest before immigrating to the United States and embarking on a secular career as professor of literature at The University of Notre Dame at South Bend.[12][13] The surname Buttigieg is Semitic; "alab (الآب)" meaning "father" in Arabic and "tiġieġ" meaning "poultry" in Maltese.[14] His mother was a professor at Notre Dame for 29 years.[15]

In 2000 Buttigieg was valedictorian of his high school senior class at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.[16] That year he was the recipient of a first prize for the JFK Profiles in Courage Essay Contest awarded by the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. He traveled to Boston to accept the award and met Caroline Kennedy and other members of President Kennedy's family. Buttigieg had written about the integrity and political courage demonstrated by U.S. Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of only two independent members of Congress.[17][18]

Buttigieg attended Harvard College, majoring in history and literature.[19] While at Harvard he was president of the Harvard Institute of Politics Student Advisory Committee and worked on the Institute's annual study of youth attitudes on politics.[20][21] He wrote his undergraduate thesis on the influence of puritanism on U.S. foreign policy as reflected in Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American.[22]

Upon graduating from Harvard in 2005, Buttigieg was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and in 2007 he received a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honors in philosophy, politics and economics from Pembroke College, Oxford (later promoted to a Master of Arts (Oxon) per tradition).

Early career and military service

Before graduating from college, Buttigieg worked as an investigative intern at WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC news affiliate. He also worked as an intern for Jill Long Thompson's unsuccessful[23] 2002 congressional campaign. He later served as an adviser to her unsuccessful[24] 2008 gubernatorial campaign.[25]

From 2004 to 2005, Buttigieg worked in Washington, D.C., as conference director for former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen's international strategic consulting firm, The Cohen Group. He also spent several months working on Senator John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, where he was a policy and research specialist.[26] After earning his Oxford degree, he worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company from 2007 through 2010.[27][28]

Buttigieg was commissioned as a naval intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve in 2009, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2014.[29] After a seven-month deployment, Buttigieg returned to South Bend.[30] He remained a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve until 2017.[31][32]

Buttigieg was the Democratic Party nominee for State Treasurer of Indiana in 2010. He was defeated by Republican incumbent Richard Mourdock, garnering 37.5% of the vote.[33][34]

Mayor of South Bend

First term

Pictured is the County-City Building in downtown South Bend. The County-City Building houses the Office of the Mayor, as well as many other municipal and public offices.
The County-City Building in downtown South Bend, which houses the Office of the Mayor.

Buttigieg was elected mayor of South Bend in November 2011, with 74% of the vote.[35] He took office in January 2012 at age 29, becoming the second-youngest mayor in South Bend history (Schuyler Colfax III became mayor at age 28 in 1898)[36] and the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents.[35][37]

In 2012 Buttigieg demoted South Bend police chief Darryl Boykins after a federal investigation found that the police department had improperly recorded telephone calls.[38] He also fired the police department's communications director, who had "discovered the recordings but continued to record the line at Boykins' command".[38] The police communications director alleged that the recordings captured four senior police officers making racist remarks and discussing illegal acts.[38][39] Buttigieg opted to settle suits brought by Boykins, the communications director, and the four officers out of court.[38][40] A federal judge ruled in 2015 that Boykins's recordings violated the Federal Wiretap Act.[39] Buttigieg came under pressure from political opponents to release the tapes, but said that doing so would be a violation of the Wiretap Act.[39] He called for the eradication of racial bias in the police force.[38] An Indiana court is currently hearing a case for release of the tapes.[41]

Buttigieg in a suit
Buttigieg at a 2017 Democratic National Convention event.

Buttigieg was named mayor of the year for 2013 by, tying with third-term New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg.[42][43] In 2014 The Washington Post called Buttigieg "the most interesting mayor you've never heard of" based on his youth, education, and military background.[35] In 2016 New York Times columnist Frank Bruni published a column praising his work as mayor with a headline asking if he might be "the first gay president".[44]

One of Buttigieg's signature programs has been the "Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative" (known locally as "1,000 Properties in 1,000 Days"), a project to repair or demolish blighted properties across the city.[45][46] The goal was reached by the program's scheduled end date in November 2015.[47]

Buttigieg served for seven months in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserves, returning to the United States on September 23, 2014.[48] While deployed, he was assigned to the Afghan Threat Finance Cell, a counterterrorism unit that targeted Taliban insurgency financing.[49][50] In his absence, Deputy Mayor Mark Neal, South Bend's city controller, served in the role of executive, from February 2014 until Buttigieg returned to his role as mayor in October 2014.[48]

Second term

In 2014 Buttigieg announced that he would seek a second term[51] and went on to win the Democratic primary with 78% of the vote, defeating Henry Davis, Jr., the city councilman from the 2nd District.[52] In November 2015 he was elected to his second term as mayor of South Bend with over 80% of the vote, defeating Republican Kelly Jones.[53]

During the 2015 controversy over Indiana Senate Bill 101—the original version of which was widely criticized for allowing discrimination against LGBT people—Buttigieg emerged as a leading opponent of the legislation, and shortly afterward came out as gay to express his solidarity.[54][55]  

In 2013 Buttigieg proposed a "Smart Streets" urban development program to improve South Bend's downtown area, and in early 2015 (after traffic studies and public hearings) he secured a bond issue for the program[38] backed by tax increment financing.[56][57] "Smart Streets" was aimed at improving economic development and urban vibrancy as well as road safety.[58] The project involved the conversion of one-way streets in downtown to two-way streets, traffic calming measures, the widening of sidewalks, streetside beautification (including the planting of trees and installation of decorative brickwork), the addition of bike lanes,[57] and the introduction of roundabouts.[58] Elements of the project were finished in 2016,[38] and it was officially completed in 2017.[58] The project was credited with spurring private development in the city.[57]

As mayor, Buttigieg was a leading figure behind the creation of a nightly laser lighting display along downtown South Bend's St. Joseph River trail as public art. The project cost $700,000, which was raised from private funds.[59] The "River Lights" installation was unveiled in May 2015, as part of the city's 150th anniversary celebrations.[38]

Under Buttigieg, South Bend launched a $50 million investment in the city's parks, many of which had been neglected during the preceding decades.[59]

In December 2018 Buttigieg announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor of South Bend.[60]

2017 DNC chair election

In January 2017 Buttigieg announced his candidacy for Chair of the Democratic National Committee in its 2017 chairmanship election.[61] He "built a national profile as an emerging dark horse in the race for the chairmanship with the backing of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean[62] and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley.[63] Buttigieg "campaigned on the idea that the aging Democratic Party needed to empower its millennial members".[62] He withdrew from the race on the day of the election.[62]

2020 presidential election

2020 presidential campaign logo

On January 23, 2019, Buttigieg announced that he was creating an exploratory committee for a candidacy for President of the United States in the 2020 election. Buttigieg is seeking the Democratic nomination.[64][65][66] If elected, he would be the youngest and the first openly LGBT American president.[7] He officially launched his campaign on April 14, 2019, in South Bend.[8][67]

Buttigieg describes himself as a proponent of democratically influenced capitalism. He favors universal healthcare with retention of private insurance; dialogue and cooperation between the Democratic Party and organized labor; universal background checks for firearms purchases; and environment policies that address pollution and fight climate change, which he views as "a security issue". He also supports federal legislation banning discrimination against LGBT people and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for immigrants.[68][69] Buttigieg self-identifies as a progressive and a supporter of democratic capitalism.[69] He identifies regulatory capture as a significant problem in American society.[69]

Honors and awards

Buttigieg was named a 2014 Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow.[70] He was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Fenn Award in 2015.[71]

Personal life

St. James Cathedral in South Bend, where Buttigieg is a member.

Buttigieg is a devout Christian,[72][73][74] and he has said his faith has had a strong influence in his life.[75][44] Although his parents had him baptized a Roman Catholic as an infant in deference to his deeply religious Maltese relatives, and although he was sent to Catholic schools, his parents were infrequent churchgoers.[76] While at Oxford, Buttigieg began to attend Christ Church Cathedral, and says he felt "more-or-less Anglican" by the time he returned to South Bend.[76] St. Augustine, James Martin, and Garry Wills are among his religious influences.[75] A member of the Episcopal Church, Buttigieg is a congregant at the Cathedral of St. James in downtown South Bend.[74]

Buttigieg is a polyglot. He taught himself to speak Norwegian and is also conversational in Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Farsi, and French.[77][78][79] Buttigieg plays guitar and piano,[80][81] and in 2013 performed with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra as a guest piano soloist along with Ben Folds.[82][83]

In a June 2015 essay in the South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg announced that he is gay.[84] He is the first openly gay municipal executive in Indiana.[85]

In December 2017, Buttigieg announced his engagement to Chasten Glezman, a junior high school teacher whom Buttigieg had been dating since August 2015 after meeting on the dating app Hinge.[86][87][88] They were married on June 16, 2018, in a private ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James.[89][73] They live in the same South Bend neighborhood where Buttigieg grew up, with their two rescue dogs, Truman and Buddy.[90] As of April 2019, Chasten also uses the last name Buttigieg.[91][92]

Pete Buttigieg is an only child.[93]


  • Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future. Liveright Publishing Corporation/W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2019. ISBN 9-781-63149-4369.


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External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael Griffith
Democratic nominee for Treasurer of Indiana
Succeeded by
Mike Boland
Political offices
Preceded by
Steve Luecke
Mayor of South Bend