City Club and a Evening with Pete Buttgieg

On Tuesday, February 12th, we first stopped off at the Union Club for a few minutes of a Cleveland Council on World Affairs forum pertaining to U.S. foreign policy in which the speaker was Dr. James Lindsay, Senior Vice President of the Council on Foreign Relations. While Dr. Lindsay was being greeted, we conversed with Dr. Kenneth Ledford, Chair of the History Department at CWRU, about the practicality as well as the moral and legal ramifications of the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.

The format for the CCWA program consisted of Dr. Lindsay having a dialogue with our friend, Mr. Neil McCarthy, who were both glad to pose for a photo. In terms of immigration, Dr. Lindsay acknowledged that it was not his field of expertise, but he seemed to us very politically aware. Therefore, we believed Dr. Lindsay when he advised us to not get our hopes up too high about the bargain that seems to have been reached between the President and the U.S. Congress about funding for the border wall. After all, as we have witnessed lately, just when it appeared that a political deal had been made, it was discarded and the process began anew. Unfortunately, we could not stay for the full program.

The reason we left early was to attend a City Club gathering that took place at the Parma-Snow Branch of the Cuyahoga Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, featuring Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who is exploring a run for the U.S. Presidency in 2020. Much has been written about Mayor Buttigieg, now only 37 years old, who was first elected to his post in 2011. Under his leadership, South Bend has been transformed from a desperate community to one that shows continual promise.

Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter introduced Mayor Buttgieg and lauded his abilities. In fact, Mayor DeGeeter has relatives living in the South Bend area who like Mayor Buttgieg so much that they were considering driving to Parma to listen to him speak that evening, but were deterred by ominous weather.

In the first part of his presentation, Mayor Buttigieg read a few passages from his book, Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future that had been officially published that very day. From his readings, we learned that Mayor Buttigieg is LGBT and very happily married to his husband. He also shared with us such experiences as serving in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces; campaigning for the office of Indiana Secretary of State and losing by a lot but learning a lot; gaining confidence in the performance of ceremonial duties as mayor; and working with now Vice President Mike Pence when he was Governor of Ohio. Mayor Buttigieg indicated that his relationship with then-Governor Pence had its “ups and its downs,” which he devoted an entire chapter to discussing in his book.

During the course of the Q and A, we asked Mayor Buttigieg about the difficulties faced by local mayors concerning enforcement of federal immigration policies imposed them. Mayor Buttigieg replied that this is indeed a challenge because one section of South Bend is heavily Hispanic and its inhabitants are very worried about ICE raids. He then made a plea for comprehensive immigration reform in order for cities like South Bend to continue to move forward.