I don’t know Mayor Pete, but I’m starting to really like him. Seems a lot of other folks are, too, and not just those in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, where he’s wrapping up eight years as mayor.
Pete now wants to be the President of the United States. He says he’s the first Millennial to run for the job, and points out that he bases his decisions on how it will impact “everyday life in our country, tomorrow, and in 2054 — the year he will reach the current age of the current president.” (Quotes are from his campaign website, unless otherwise attributed.)
A little cheeky, but it works. So does this.
“Pete belongs to the generation that came of age with school shootings, the generation that provided the majority of the troops in the conflicts after 9/11, the generation that is on the business end of climate change, and the generation that—unless we take action—stands to be the first to be worse off economically than their parents.” Yup. He’s captured my attention and that of many, many potential voters in the U.S.
Pete’s not just a clean cut face with good copy writers. He’s a Navy Veteran, who stepped away from his mayoral duties to deploy to Afghanistan. He’s a Rhodes Scholar and a Harvard graduate. He has a best-selling memoir. He’s also, as The Atlantic put it, “embracing traditional family and sexual norms, a route made officially available to him by the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same-sex marriage … Pete Buttigieg is radically upending popular expectations of what a gay politician can be.”
Pete is a face of optimism, of non-traditional viewpoints, and of success at leading South Bend into a modern vision of a successful, sustainable community. It’s the type of face I’m longing to see more of in our local leadership roles.
We have a few East Coast politicians who bear a resemblance to Mayor Pete, in terms of generation and a fresh approach to the status quo, like Bonavista’s John Norman and our own New Brunswick Millennial Mayor, Miramichi’s Adam Lordon. Lordon spent several years working on CTV productions in Toronto before returning to his hometown, eventually taking over his mother’s council seat after her death and a subsequent by-election. His city appears to love him and is thriving in several areas, including being a national leader in attracting and retaining immigrants to small centres.
Lordon’s personality had already permeated my newsfeeds before the tragic events of Easter weekend, but his poise and thoughtful words regarding the sudden deaths of four local teenagers solidified my respect for him as a leader. He wrote: “Together in the face of such tragedy, we will come together to heal and take extra care of the families and friends of those we’ve lost.”
I don’t like to stereotype or want to be accused of being ageist, but there is a perspective that youthful politicians can bring to everything from economics to the emotional needs of a community that is necessary to engage and inspire residents, particularly those younger hearts and minds (because it’s not just about your birthdate) that often spur population growth. We saw a significant shift in politics here in our province during the last election, and an even greater shift with our neighbours in PEI just this week. I believe there will be more and more folks like Mayor Pete and his peers taking on the leadership roles in our communities, and I for one could not be more excited about what this change could bring.