Would You Vote for Jon Mitchell for President? [PHIL-OSOPHY]
The 2020 presidential election is still a year away and the national stage is presenting candidates we've never heard of. Take South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for example (by the way, it's pronounced as if you were saying BOOT-edge-edge). Now that he's tossed his hat in the presidential ring, we're going to find out everything about him, bad and good.
To put it in perspective, Mayor Pete making a run for the White House is not unlike if our own Mayor Jon had similar aspirations. In fact, there are some similarities I think will interest you.
Like Mayor Pete, Mayor Mitchell is a Harvard grad. They both have a high intellect and both administer cities that lost their industrial base that employed a good majority of their local blue-collar residents. New Bedford's textile factories went away, while South Bend's Studebaker manufacturing plant shut down. Here, the unemployed locals stayed in their three-tenement apartments, while South Bend's population abandoned their single-family houses, leaving an unsightly urban blight, creating an exodus in South Bend that reduced their population from 150,000 to about 100,000 people, right around the population of our own city.
Another unusual parallel is that until former Mayor Rosemary Tierney brought in an "outsider," Arthur J. Kelley, to be New Bedford's police chief, the city always chose one from within its own ranks. South Bend, too, brought in their first "outsider" since 1939. He was Ron Teachman, former New Bedford Police Chief. Mayor Pete was having troubles with the Common Council, same as our City Council, as they clashed over his choice to bring in someone who never lived in the area, had no knowledge of South Bend and spoke with a weird accent.
The few years Chief Teachman spent there didn't end very nicely, but he became a respected and trusted friend of Buttigieg, who is now looking to be our next president. Teachman faced accusations by minority officers that he wasn't giving them the opportunity to apply for positions he was creating, and then there was an incident where Teachman refused to leave a rec center to help a lieutenant break up a fight outside, and Mayor Pete declined to release the State Police investigation report on the incident, while saying Teachman's actions didn't warrant discipline.
During Thursday evening's debate, the incident of a racially-charged police shooting June 16 in South Bend surfaced as one of the questions. In a forthright attempt to answer the question, Mayor Pete said, in retrospect, he could have handled the matter better.
We'll have to wait and see if this issue haunts his campaign as a weak link.
So there are a lot of similarities between South Bend and New Bedford, and a lot of similarities in the challenges both Mayor Pete and Mayor Mitchell have faced. While Mitchell has done the best job he could leading New Bedford, do you think he'd be ready to run the country?
Mayor Pete is hoping you think so.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.