Mayor Pete: ‘I’m full of hope’

Midwest mayor and presidential candidate speaks to the issues at sold out event on Martha’s Vineyard.


The Martha’s Vineyard welcome for Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg was a warm one Saturday afternoon.

Buttigieg spoke to a sold out crowd at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center in a wide-ranging Q and A that covered Buttigieg’s time running for president, freedom, education, and his favorite date with his husband Chasten Buttigieg, who joined him on stage. 

Little known before his presidential bid, Buttigieg was born in South Bend. He went on to earn degrees from Harvard and Oxford before joining the Navy. In 2011, Buttigieg was elected as mayor of South Bend at age 29, becoming the second youngest mayor in the city’s history.

“We are living in a moment right now that is one of these moments that is in between chapters in American history. We are lucky and unlucky enough to be responsible for the decisions that are going to shape how the next half century is going to go,” Buttigieg said to a captivated crowd. “What’s before us is the opportunity to set the course not just for what the next three or four years will look like, but what the next 30 or 40 years will look like.”

Chasten came out on stage with a fish bowl filled with questions that audience members wrote down. 

One of the questions asked the candidate how he will reach African American voters. 

“It’s not just political strategy, in order to deserve to win in this race you have to be speaking to racial inequality in a time like this because I think racial inequality will wreck the American project in our lifetimes if we don’t do more about it,” he said.

Education was another focal point of the talk.

“We’ve got to make college more affordable,” he said referring to an expansion of Pell grants and allowing low and middle income students to graduate debt free. “But almost nobody is talking about how to make it affordable to not go to college in this country. You shouldn’t have to go to college to do well.”

Addressing climate change has been a major issue with all Democratic candidates. Buttigieg said investing $24 billion a year in the research and development of renewable energy, energy storage, and carbon storage was a start.

While most of the topics were about major policies and agendas, Buttigieg also took time to joke with Chasten about ideal vacations and dating. When asked what his favorite date with Chasten was, Buttigieg said it was a long walk up through New York City.

One of his last questions asked for a succinct democratic vision of America.

“Freedom, security, and democracy,” Buttigieg said. “To me, that’s our message.”

Before his speech, Buttigieg met with a group of the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) drivers who went on strike last week to learn about their reasons for striking and what he could do to help. 

“If we want to make it possible to live well in the United States we’ve got to be supporting organizing. There are things we can do specifically in a policy perspective, especially when you’re doing this with public money, that says wait a minute if you’re not supporting workers, we’re not supporting you,” Buttgieg said. “It’s not right, it’s not fair.”

Richard Townes, Roland Goulart, Jason Chalifoux, Katherine Kavanaugh, and several other drivers and supporters detailed the history of the drivers attempt to join a union and receive better pay, better healthcare, and better treatment.

“I’m going to be sharing your story and I’m going to be keeping in touch and I’m going to be looking for good news from here on Martha’s Vineyard,” Buttigieg said. “Hang in there, and we’re on your side.”

Speaking to The Times after his speech, Buttigieg talked about his reasons for coming to the Vineyard, the seasonal workforce, H-2B visas, affordable housing, and what he learned from the VTA drivers.

Buttigieg has been running the gamut on his campaign. Friday he was in Provincetown and Saturday morning he was in Nantucket before coming over to the Vineyard. Sunday, he’s headed south to New Orleans.

“We’ve been hearing for months people were saying ‘you’ve got to come out to Martha’s Vineyard,’” Buttigieg said. “We wanted to make sure we had a chance to engage people here…I wish we could come back with a little more time on our hands, but what we’re finding is a lot of people both here and in this community and people from all over the country who share our vision and are excited to support it.”

Over the past few years, President Donald Trump’s administration lowered the cap on H-2B visas, which power much of the seasonal workforce on the Island. In March, the cap was increased, but has still left employers shorthanded.

“It starts with understanding, philosophically, that American growth requires immigration it doesn’t work without immigration,” Buttigieg said. “When the President says we’re full, that just doesn’t make sense to me.” 

One of the issues Buttigieg is focused on is affordable housing — an issue well known on Martha’s Vineyard.

“What we have to do is to not just invest in the houses, but invest in the people,” Buttigieg said. “Which starts at increasing the minimum wage. For many communities it’s an income problem.”

He brought up the VTA drivers and how many of them grew up on the Vineyard and would like to stay here and for some raise families.

“It’s part of what we were talking about with the transit workers just now is that their wages are nowhere near what the cost of living would call for in terms of the living wage and so that’s where we need to be investing and supporting people to be able to live in neighborhoods that they helped build.”


  1. The Mayor of South Bend: among the top 3% most violent crime cities in America, and in the top 30 cities for murder rates. Yep, he’s sure “full of hope”.

  2. I am TOTALLY Disgusted ~~~> Buttigieg spoke to a sold out crowd at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Another laughable democrat. This island will take anything they say and run home with it.

  4. If Bernie showed up we would need a bigger island. I think we all know who the front runner is.

  5. He can’t handle his own messed up city but you all think he’s qualified to run the entire country? Seriously? SMH

  6. Republicans on the Island promise America better manners than this. Not really, just wanted to see if I could type it without laughing.

    • This is the island Republican response to poor Melania’s Be Best campaign, while they support a President who is inept, insecure, and incompetent, seen by everyone who sees reality, including the British Ambassador to the US. Trump is the most unqualifed President in US history. And he surrounds himself with only the best of the worst. Accosta (pedophile rapist enabler) is typical of who Trump surrounds himself with) and will be the next to go from this disgraceful Trump administration.

      • Don’t know how an academic community organizer is qualified if a billionaire businessman is not. Narcissistic yes, low vocabulary yes, emotionally immature yes, but not incompetent. He gets things done. 1 million jobs for blacks since 2016 and more for Latinos and women. If you studied the Acosta finding in 2007 you would understand the judicial finding. Instead you use what we know in 2019 to second guess a 2007decision.

        • Andrew– when Obama was president and the unemployment rate was dropping you said the president has nothing to do with the unemployment rate. Now the president is responsible.
          Trump is pretty incompetent. About the only thing I see him getting done is stuff that he screwed up . he had the audacity to sign an executive order ending his family separation policy and then pat himself on the back for being the only person to stand up to this policy that he claimed was in effect for 60 years. He put Iran on the fast track to nukes, created a humanitarian crisis at the border, has alienated virtually all of our allies and has dropped regulations protecting the environment. His “best people” that he hired turned out to be crooks, liars, cheats, swindlers, con men and pond scum. Fortunately , many of them are in jail, and many more are going. Do you think hiring those kinds of people reflect competency ?

        • Andrew, trying to convince anyone else that your distorted reality is real is as productive as saying that blue is orange. The stories you tell yourself to ease your conscience that you support a lying, damaging conman do you no service. Next thing you know you’ll be trying to spread that the birther’s wife, who is also a birther–and a plagiarizing, lesbian porn model– speaks 5 languages. She’s as fake and inept as the bungling, blabbering, incompetent liar she married. Be Best, right? The only thing the bankrupt clown in the WH has done for this country is help tear it apart. I almost could laugh that someone in this thead claims to feel “totally disgusted” that people go to hear a decent, honest, personally admirable political candidate speak at the high school, but this same disgruntled, “disgusted” person, who went to the new museum opening to see if the racist plaques were on display and then went to the trouble to complain on these pages that they weren’t, has no problem supporting a racist, lying, historically stupid, and completely inept POTUS.

  7. I didn’t go to this event. Can anyone who was there share with us if he mentioned anything about our brave soldiers capturing all of the British airports during the revolutionary war ? Voting for the president is something we should all take very seriously, and if mayor Pete does not recognize the importance of our brave soldiers capturing the British airports in 1754, why would anyone vote for him ?

    • “If only the British had held on to the airports, the whole thing might have gone differently for us.” ~ Mick Jagger, 7 July 2019, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

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