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Issues in South Bend posing political challenges for Buttigieg ahead of Democratic Debate

NOW: Issues in South Bend posing political challenges for Buttigieg ahead of Democratic Debate

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is taking the stage at the first democratic primary debate Thursday night.

This comes after the mayor cancelled numerous campaign stops last week to deal with the homegrown crisis of gun violence and allegations of police misconduct following a fatal officer-involved shooting.

All of the issues at home are shaping Michiana voter’s views of him as a presidential candidate.

Michiana voters said they were both impressed and skeptical of Mayor Pete as a presidential candidate. He’s facing a lot of challenges at home and his performance in this debate will be highly scrutinized nationally and locally.

At home though, Mayor Pete shaped a lot of opinions by simply showing up for the community in the wake of a crisis.

First, he attended at a gun violence memorial where he heard citizens’ concerns. Then he heard them again at a protest for justice and again heard and addressed them at a nationally televised town hall.

“I don’t know if it’s smart or not,” Buttigieg said to reporters after the town hall. “I don’t know if it’s strategic or not but it’s my city.”

Proving he had pride in his city by showing up and speaking up in South Bend is exactly what Michiana voter and community activist said forced him to change his mind about Mayor Pete.

“Before he came down to the anti-violence rally, I had very little to no respect for him,” Wayne Hubbard said, a local community activist. Hubbard said he was surprised the mayor actually showed up.

“I actually met with him outside the protest against violence and I told him I respected him for coming down there to hear out from the people themselves, without the police presence, without his comfort zone,” Hubbard said.

That encounter is where Hubbard was personally invited to the mayor’s office. There, Mayor Pete said he would help Hubbard with his efforts to better the city by partnering with Hubbards’s volunteer group “Fix it Forward.” The group is largely based on Facebook but the goal is for Hubbard and other willing community members to offer their services to those who need it.

“What we discussed is how we could come together, as in the mayor and ‘Fix it Forward’ to make the city a better place and a safer place,” Hubbard said. “I think if he wants to run a country he has to get used to empowering citizens, and what he’s been doing in south bend is a good first step.”

And unlike some in South Bend, Hubbard does not believe the mayor’s efforts in the city this past week have anything to do with political gain after meeting with him in person.

“It’s actually more risk for his campaign for the camera to see how much the city despises him for his previous choices,” Hubbard said. “I think if he runs for president and neglects the city, he shouldn’t be mayor or president. But if he will empower the right systems that will potentially save the city and he can figure out how to become emotionally attached again… I could see him being president.”

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