South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg running for DNC chair

A big announcement Thursday from South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He's entering the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Buttigieg will have 7 weeks to campaign. He says he's not going to use any city resources or taxpayer money to do it.

Buttigieg said at a press conference Thursday that he recognizes it will be a challenge to make himself known to DNC members all across the country.

He says he hopes he can bring a 'fresh start' to the Democratic Party.

"What I have to bring is a little bit different," Buttigieg said. "I have the perspective of a mayor, a local official, somebody from a newer generation in the middle of the country. I think I can offer something based on that experience that suggests a new way forward for the party, one that's not based on reliving some of the old battles of 2016, but something that's based on looking forward -- and I think that's exactly what the party needs right now," he said.

Buttigieg is entering the race with at least five other candidates, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Buttigieg will take part in four regional forums over the next seven weeks to meet with other DNC members and chairperson candidates.

He says in light of the 2016 election, he wants his voice to be heard and realized that might not happen if he didn't enter the race.

"I believe in going where you can make yourself useful and I think there something unique and exceptionally important about the opportunity to guide the democratic party at a moment like this," he added.

In all, 447 DNC members will vote at the end of February.

Buttigieg says he'll continue serving as mayor until someone is chosen to lead the party at the end of next month, but will resign if he wins.

"Being mayor of South Bend is the most meaningful and important work, and the most enjoyable, if often challenging work of my life," Buttigieg said. "It is only because of what happened with the election last year that it crossed my mind to take this step and it's only because of the work in South Bend that has happened and what it means for communities like South Bend that I'm motivated to even take this step at all," he added.

If he resigns, the local Democratic Party would hold a caucus within 30 days of his resignation.

Precinct committee chairs in the city of South Bend would vote.

A candidate needs a majority vote to win.

Local reaction

With Mayor Buttigieg running for DNC chair, big changes could be on the way for South Bend.

The mayor has made improvements a big priority downtown, and city leaders don't want to see all that hard work disappear.

South Bend is seeing new growth and development, and members of the common council say the city is back on the map. But they'll need to work hard to keep that momentum going.

Common council Vice President Oliver Davis has put a lot of thought into that work. He says the key is communication and strong leadership.

This is Davis' third term serving the sixth district, an area that has seen a lot of growth and development.

Davis says that experience along with his time as a social worker would make him a good candidate to take over for Mayor Buttigieg.

"That's something that I've been able to bring to the council,” Davis said. “When we’ve been able to work with different development that is coming into the city of South Bend in the 6th District. The 6th District is the fastest growing district in the city and we have a lot of development over there. So I'm excited to see this and hopefully Mayor {ete can continue to move forward and again the city of South Bend would be able to move forward."

St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairman Jason Critchlow stated; “It’s a bittersweet announcement. Our community has thrived under the leadership of Pete Buttigieg and will continue to do so. However, it would be exciting to see his success translate on a larger scale. South Bend should be proud to have him represent our community in this national role.”

The Indiana Democratic Party released the following statement:

John Zody, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party: “November’s election made one point very clear – the Midwest and the issues important to this region should never be ignored. More attention must be made to growing wages for the hardworking middle-class, investing in training programs that are needed to bridge a skills gap, and bringing a Hoosier Common Sense approach to solving important issues like equality. With investments in things like community development, job creation, and infrastructure during his time as Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg has the capability of bringing a much-needed Midwest voice to the Democratic Party that will resonate across the country. Pete is a young and dynamic talent that we need at the top of our party, and I am happy to support a Hoosier for DNC Chair. I encourage my fellow DNC members to get to know Mayor Pete Buttigieg over the next seven weeks.”

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