Steve Luecke

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Steve Luecke
Mayor steve luecke.jpg
31st Mayor of South Bend
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 1, 2012
Preceded byJoe Kernan
Succeeded byPete Buttigieg
Personal details
BornFreeport, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceSouth Bend, Indiana
Alma materFordham University

Stephen J. Luecke[1] (born 1950) is an American politician who served as the 31st mayor of South Bend, Indiana, United States from 1997 to 2012.[2] A member of the Democratic Party, he was the longest-serving mayor in the city's history.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Luecke grew up in of Freeport, Illinois.[4]

Luecke attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated from Fordham University.[5]

During the Vietnam War, Luecke had been a conscientious objector.[6][7]


Early career[edit]

Before entering politics, Luecke was a carpenter, then an employee of a foundation focusing on affordable housing and other local issues.[5]

Luecke served as a member of the South Bend Common Council for nine years, serving as the councilman for the 1st District in the city's northwest.[1]


In January 1997, Luecke became mayor of South Bend, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Mayor Joe E. Kernan, who had become lieutenant governor.[1] He was endorsed by Kernan to be his successor, and was thereafter appointed unanimously by the Common Council to fill the vacancy.[7] Luecke remained mayor until 2011.[2] A Democrat, he was the city's longest-serving mayor.[3] Luecke was first reelected in 1999, being subsequently reelected in 2003 and 2007.

South Street Station, opened in 1998

In 1998, the South Street Station, a bus center, opened in downtown South Bend.[8][9] The effort to build the station had begun planning in the mayoralty of Luecke's predecessor Joe Kernan.[8][10] It opened without an originally-planned Amtrak station component.[8] Luecke sought to have the Amtrak component constructed,[10] but was unsuccessful.[8]

Morris Performing Arts Center

Highlights of Luecke's tenure as mayor included a reduction in crime in the city, urban redevelopment efforts, and the renovation of the Morris Performing Arts Center.[3]

As mayor, Luecke envisioned South Bend as a regional center for arts and culture.[11] He took actions which had generated a growth in the offerings of entertainment and dining in the city's downtown.[11] The Morris Performing Arts Center was renovated in 2000 under his mayoralty.[12] Two studies conducted around 2007 had demonstrated that these efforts by Luecke were allowing the city to enjoy millions in economic spending.[11] One of these, a study by Saint Mary's College, showed that the city-owned Morris Performing Arts Center would generate a $5.9 annual indirect economic impact, excluding its own ticket sales.[11]

By 2007, Luecke was proclaiming that the city had seen $1.3 billion in investments during his tenure.[13]

Among the infrastructure efforts undertaken during his tenure was a "smart sewer" program.[14][15] This was subsequently built upon substantially by his successor Buttigieg.[16]

Eddy Street Commons

A major new development that the city saw during Luecke's tenure was the beginning of the first phase of Eddy Street Commons.[12] Other projects included redevelopment along West Washington Street.[4]

The city saw the construction of a The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center during Luecke's mayoralty.[4]

Luecke is credited for having strengthened the relationship between the City of South Bend and the nearby University of Notre Dame.[12]

Under Luecke, the city made the decision that the former Studebaker plant buildings would be demolished for new use. The city put together TIF funds and federal funding to clear the site, which later became the site of the Innovation Park and Ignition Park tech parks.[12]

Luecke opted against running for what would have been a fourth full (and fifth overall) term as mayor, making the 2011 South Bend mayoral election an open race to succeed him, and the first open mayoral election in South Bend in 24 years.[17][18][19] Luecke abstained from endorsing any candidate ahead of the Democratic primary.[20] The race to succeed Luecke was ultimately won by Pete Buttigieg.


From 2013 until his retirement in 2017, Luecke was the executive director of the South Bend Alumni Association, which raises money to benefit South Bend schools.[21]

In the 2019 South Bend mayoral election, Luecke endorsed his former special assistant Lynn Coleman in his, ultimately unsuccessful, bid for the Democratic nomination.[22][23]


  1. ^ a b c Passed Senate Resolution 108, Indiana Senate, First Regular Session, 117th General Assembly (2011).
  2. ^ a b "Mayor Steve Luecke to deliver final State of the City on Monday". WNDU. 5 February 2011. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b c McFadden, Maureen. "A Conversation with Mayor Steve Luecke". WNDU. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c McFadden, Maureen (19 December 2011). "A Conversation with Mayor Steve Luecke". WNDU-TV. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b Austin Murphy, Saturday Rules: A Season with Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines) (Harper, 2007), p. 19.
  6. ^ "Leucke's lead is big" (PDF). The Howey Political Report. 6 (10). 21 October 1999. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b "TICKER TAPE" (PDF). The Howey Political Report. 3 (15A). 16 December 1996. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "Laporte County intermodal rail yard". WNDU. 2 September 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Transpo Overview & History". South Bend Transpo. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1999: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifth Congress, Second Session, Part 7. United States Congress. 1998. pp. 467–486. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d "2007 Mayoral" (PDF). Howey Political Report. 14 (8). 4 October 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d Hudson, Melissa (22 May 2015). "SB150: Former Mayor Steve Luecke". ABC57. WBND-LD. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  13. ^ Howey, Brian A. (14 June 2007). "Juan Manigault: GOP's best hope?" (PDF). Howey Political Report. 13 (40). Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  14. ^ "South Bend, Indiana Uses Smart Sewer Technology to Monitor and Manage Increased Water Levels". Indiana University. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  15. ^ Hughes, Jessica (1 October 2008). "Wireless Sensors Reduce Flooding in Indiana City". GovTech. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  16. ^ Gardner, Drew (14 April 2019). "How has South Bend changed under Mayor Buttigieg's leadership?". WBND-LD. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  17. ^ Fuller, Jaime (10 March 2014). "The most interesting mayor you've never heard of". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  18. ^ Molina, Rich (23 March 2011). "Meet the Candidates: Pete Buttigieg". WNDU-TV.
  19. ^ Howey, Brian A. (10 November 2011). "Big GOP gains shift to city halls" (PDF). Howey Politics Indiana. 17 (13). Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  20. ^ Galer, Sara (4 May 2011). "Ex-Indiana treasurer candidate wins South Bend mayoral primary". WTHR. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  21. ^ Former mayor Steve Luecke to retire as leader of South Bend Alumni Association, South Bend Tribune (October 18, 2017).
  22. ^ "Where are the voters? New mayor of South Bend could be decided by small numbers". South Bend Tribune. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  23. ^ Bell, Kyle W. (24 April 2019). "Former South Bend Mayor Luecke endorses Lynn Coleman". South Bend Voice. Retrieved 24 May 2019.