By Reuven Fenton and Bruce Golding – NY Post
When residents of this city’s impoverished West Side reflect on Pete Buttigieg’s two terms as mayor, a few things come to mind:
A spike in violent crime, development that largely ignored the African American community and how their only well-lit street is the one that leads to Notre Dame University.
So how, they wonder, can Buttigieg possibly be trusted to run the country?
“If he’s the next president, I fear for our country. He couldn’t run our city. How can he run the United States?,” said Michelle Burger, 42, a stay-at-home mom who lives in South Bend’s impoverished and predominantly black West Side.
“Look at all the crime — he didn’t do anything about it. Look at our quality of life. If he becomes president, the United States will become one big South Bend — a giant sinkhole. We’ll be in a new depression.”
Another West Side resident, Cornish Miller, 62, said of Buttigieg, “Rating him 1 to 10, I’d give him a 2.”
“Buttigieg talked about all the improvements he made, but he hardly made a dent,” said Miller, who works for a military supply company.
“The West Side is the most neglected part of town. The street I live on is the only street around here that has lights. That’s because we’re a gateway to Notre Dame.”
Buttigieg’s young age — 38 — along with his Rust Belt childhood, elite education and moderate liberalism have drawn comparisons with French President Emmanuel Macron, who was elected in 2017 at age 39.
On the stump, Buttigieg comes off as cool, calm and cerebral, with a deeper-than-expected voice, given his boyish appearance. He typically gives speeches wearing a white shirt and tie, with his sleeves rolled up.
But some in South Bend describe Buttigieg’s mayoralty as a nightmare during which FBI data show that violent crimes surged from 622 in 2012, his first year, to 1,088 in 2018, the latest for which statistics are available.
“We had a record number of homicides during his time as mayor, and it didn’t seem like he was feeling the people’s psychological, emotional and spiritual needs,” said the Rev. Sylvester Williams Jr. of the Interfaith Christian Union.
“It seemed like he was focused on creating a progressive city, that he was above tending to those basic needs.”
One of Buttigieg’s fiercest critics, Councilman Henry Davis Jr., said that Buttigieg was “inept” as mayor and “always had one foot out the door.”
He cited Buttigieg’s six-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2014 as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, as well as his failed, 2017 attempt to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“And then he came back and takes off again and wants to be president of the United States,” said Davis, who unsuccessfully challenged Buttigieg in South Bend’s 2015 Democratic mayoral primary.
“So he really has never been here and committed to the growth and the functionally of this community. It’s always been a gateway to something that he believed was larger.”
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