This article first appeared in City Lab.
“I never set out to be a Millennial mayor,” said Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. But youthfulness, he said, became a helpful symbol both in his campaign and as a leader.
In 2012, at age 29, Buttigieg became the youngest person to run a city with more than 100,000 people. He raised his national profile and became the face of a new kind of local politics after running for DNC chair last year and, despite dropping out of the race before the votes were cast, garnered a significant following.
“What happens very quickly is that your generation becomes part of the story and your face becomes part of the message,” Buttigieg said. He says the same month he got in the race because the city was struggling, Newsweek declared South Bend one of “America’s Dying Cities.” “Where it made a difference that I was a young candidate is that running for office is an act of hope—it's only something you do if you believe it makes a difference.”
Buttigieg talked with fellow mayors about the distinct attributes of being both a Millennial and a mayor on a panel last week at Georgetown University by McCourt's Institute of Politics and Public Service.
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