South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivered his final State of the City address Tuesday night.
Mayor Buttigieg was enthusiastically greeted by the crowd gathered at the Morris Performing Arts Center as the Democratic presidential hopeful returned to his day job to tout the city’s accomplishments during his eight years in office.
In the nearly-hour-long speech, the mayor touched on everything from “smart streets” and “smart sewers” to population growth and reductions in unemployment, declaring South Bend is back.
“Unemployment fell from 11.8 to 4.1 percent and, no less importantly, closed in on the national average and in some cases dipped below it, as in 2017. Population is estimated to have grown one percent between 2012 and 2017, a modest number but a very meaningful one for a city that lost a quarter of our population after the 1960s.”
Buttigieg dove into many of the themes that have come up in his appearances as he explores a presidential run.
“When I go on the road, I talk about our experience as a metaphor for what needs to happen in our country. America needs to find ways, as South Bend has, to embrace our future without fear and adapt to change so that it works for all of us.”
Buttigieg also expressed his conviction that the State of Indiana needs to adopt what he calls meaningful hate crimes legislation.
“The South Bend Common Council has expressed its support, as has Governor Holcomb; and yet the state assembly has been unable to deliver. Our community stands strong in the belief that this year should be Indiana’s last as one of just five states in the union without such a law at a time like this.”
Last month, the Republican led Senate passed a bill that stripped a list of characteristics from proposed hate crimes legislation. The bill now awaits action in the House.
Buttigieg returned to South Bend from the South-By-South-West Festival in Austin, Texas; where he appeared on CNN in a nationally televised town hall as he explores a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the 24 hours that followed, the 37-year-old mayor's exploratory committee generated more than $600,000 from more than 22,000 donors.
But the mayor says for as long as he lives, South Bend will be home.