South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg Could Become First Openly Gay President As He Launches Exploratory Committee

Aaron Homer

Pete Buttigieg could be the United States' first openly gay president, as the South Bend, Indiana, mayor launched a so-called "exploratory committee" on Wednesday to explore his options, the Hill is reporting.

Buttigieg, 37, attended Harvard and then served in the Navy, serving in Afghanistan in 2013. He remains a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve to this day. He has since built a career in Indiana politics. At 30, he was elected mayor of South Bend, with 74 percent of the vote, as the Washington Post reported at the time. He became the youngest person to be the mayor of a city of over 100,000 people.

He took over a city that had been on the decline for decades, ever since a Studebaker plant closed in the 1960s. Blighted by abandoned buildings and a downtown without an "anchor," Buttigieg set about to turn things around in the Northwest Indiana city.

He started a toll-free 311 line allowing city residents to access city services more easily. He made it easier for the city to identify and destroy vacant buildings. He brought in a tech consulting firm to figure out how the city could attract technology jobs and investors.

Jack Colwell is in Buttigieg's corner, even though he admits things are far from perfect in South Bend.

"He's generally been received pretty well. Business leaders like him. He's worked a great deal with the University of Notre Dame. He may lose some of that luster... if the potholes get worst."

At his Wednesday press conference during which he announced his presidential aspirations, Buttigieg took a thinly-veiled swipe at Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

"There is no again in the real world. We can't look for greatness in the past. Right now our country needs a fresh start."
"An openly LGBTQ elected official forming a presidential exploratory committee is a historic and powerful moment for the LGBTQ community and the entire country."