Home Improvement: Young Mayors Tackle Old Problems

Home Improvement: Young Mayors Tackle Old Problems


Good evening, everybody. I’m Steve Edwards,
the executive director of the Institute
of Politics here at the University of Chicago. And we are pleased to have
you with us for another in a series of conversations as
part of the IOP speaker series. Now tonight we’re
focusing on cities. And it’s long been said
that actually states are the laboratories of democracy. But I think we could say,
and point to many examples today, where it’s
really cities where some of the most
interesting, innovative work is happening from a policy
level, driven in part by some of the failings of state
and federal governments as it relates to cities
and urban policy, but also because of the
unique opportunities and challenges and momentum that
is swirling around cities, not just here in the United States
but around the globe, where we’re seeing massive
migration to cities, expected to drive migration
even further over the course of the next decades. So today we’re going to
delve more deeply into what’s happening with cities with
really four of the most innovative mayors in
the country these days from a variety of different
contexts and different cities. And we’re pleased to have
four outstanding individuals with us. In just a few minutes, we’ll
have Chase Woods come up and introduce those mayors
formally to all of you. But in the meantime
I want to just do a quick bit of
housekeeping to remind you that we have all series
of events still to come in this upcoming quarter,
including next Friday we will have conversation
with Maureen Dowd and Carl Hulse of The New York Times
talking about the election 2016. That’s a lunchtime event
on Friday, October 28. So a week from tomorrow. You can find out about many
other events in our series, as I’ve said before,
by going to our website politics.uschicago.edu. I should also point out that we
are recording tonight’s event. You can watch the this
event over or check out how the back of your head looks
by going to our website as well and clicking on to our
video page under Media. We will take a break in
just about 45 minutes into the conversation for you
to pose questions to our panel, as is customary here. We will set up a microphone
in the middle of the aisle. We ask that you line up
behind that microphone to pose your questions
to our guests. And when we do, we
just ask two things. We ask that we keep your
question short and to the point and, in fact, you make it a
question so that we can get to as many of you as possible. So without further ado
I have a few thanks. One is the thanks to the
team here at I House. International House
is our partner in tonight’s event as part of
their ongoing Global Voices series. And they’re gracious host. We always appreciate
everything I House does for us here in this beautiful room. And we also want to
extend a special thanks to JP Morgan Chase
Foundation, which has funded a series
of programs looking at urban politics and policy
in a variety of contexts here in Chicago. And Damion Heron is
the Midwest manager for the office of
nonprofit partnerships. And he is here to talk just
a bit about their work. It’s my great pleasure to
welcome him to this stage. Damion, thank you
for being here. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Steve. As Steve said, Damion
Heron with JP Morgan Chase. And first I would like to thank
Steve and Alicia and the rest of the team for the
great work that they’ve done in the partnership
bringing you all these great conversations. We are here to hear
from several mayors who are problem solvers,
solutionists, that are working very
hard to solve problems in their communities every day. I’m sure they will
tell you that they need private sector,
public sector, and a strong nonprofit
sector to collaborate and have the greatest impact. We at JP Morgan
Chase know that too. And we are doing just that
through our PRO Neighborhoods Innovation Fund. So two years ago we
launched a $33 million program pilot to support
collaboration among 26 CDFIs. The idea was to inject capital
and spur economic activity in neighborhoods that
have been struggling. Those CDFIs use that
capital to bring in an additional $226 million
in capital to these communities. That’s an average of
$8 million per CDFI. With the support
of the CDFIs we can bring unique, local
solutions to local problems. And we’re proud of that work. Just last week we announced
another $20 million to help an additional
15 CDFIs to continue that work across the country. And because I know
who’s in the room, I would just like to point
out that Texas, Florida, and Indiana all benefited
from that program. So our mayors should
be happy to hear that. So whether it’s helping
small business grow or helping individuals become
more financially healthy, we look forward to
continued partnerships with cities, nonprofits,
and all of you who share our vision for
making communities better for everyone. So thank you and enjoy
the conversation. And before I leave
the stage, I would like to welcome Chase Woods. Chase is a fourth year student,
majoring in public policy. And he hails from
Aurora, Illinois. Chase. [APPLAUSE] Good evening and welcome
to tonight’s event, “Home Improvement, Young
Mayors Tackles Old Problems, a Conversation about
the Innovative Solutions to the Challenges Facing
Three of the Top Young Mayors in the Country.” Tonight’s panel is comprised of
Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Gillum, and Blair Milo. Pete Buttigieg is currently
serving a second term as the mayor of
South Bend, Indiana. A graduate of Harvard and
a former Rhodes scholar, the hallmark of his tenure
has been a commitment to economic development,
supporting the public school systems, and improving the
overall quality of life. In 2014, during
his time as mayor, he was deployed to Afghanistan
as a lieutenant in the Navy. He was also named national
mayor of the year in 2013. The fifth of seven
children, Andrew Gillum is a native of
Gainesville, Florida. He currently serves as
the mayor of Tallahassee. During his time
in office, he has focused on many initiatives
ranging from economic growth to investing the city’s youth. Specifically, he’s grown the
Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy, fought for
commonsense gun laws, and promoted small
business growth. Blair Milo is one of the
youngest mayors in history of Laporte, Indiana, and
also the second woman elected to the position. Just like Mayor
Buttigieg, she is a veteran of the Navy, where
she served five years overseas. Her time as mayor has been
defined by her commitment to economic development,
investing in sustainable infrastructure, and
promoting healthy lifestyles for the citizens of Laporte. Leading tonight’s conversation
will be Annise Parker. Ms. Parker served as the
61st mayor of Houston between 2010 and 2016. During those six years,
Parker made tremendous strides in developing the
city’s infrastructure, developing a host
of new programs to support the city’s
most vulnerable, and breaking down
barriers to ensure that all could participate
in the local economy. In 2010, Time
magazine named her one of the 100 most influential
people in the world. Let’s give a round of
applause for our panel. [APPLAUSE] Glad to see so many
of you here tonight. And I’m Annise Parker, former
mayor of the city of Houston. Very happy to be the Mayor
Buttigieg, Mayor Gillum, and Mayor Milo. And while looking at them, they
look different from each other. You can clearly
distinguish them. They have certain
things in common. One, they’re all three mayors. And the other, they
started in politics and in local government
at a very young age. But perhaps the most
important thing about them is that they are known to be
innovators, forward thinkers. And they have earned
reputations among their peers as mayors to watch. So this gives you an
opportunity to hear directly from them about things
they’re doing in their cities. But I told them it
wasn’t going to be really about all the wonderful
things they’ve done, but more about
why they’ve done it and how they’ve done it. Now as I was looking
through their resumes, we have– and I’m not going
to tell you who’s who, but we it was in
the introduction. We have two veterans
and one who is not. We have two Democrats
and one Republican. We have two Midwesterners
and one from the Southeast. We have two mayors
of mid-sized cities and one mayor of a small city. We have obviously two
men and one woman. One strong mayor
form of government– or two strong mayor
forms of government, and one city manager, which
does add some differences if people want to
talk about that. But again, what you have on
stage is a range of experience and also a certain commonality
because cities are cities. And the basic functions
of cities don’t change. Now I’m going to start some
questions that they’re all going to answer. But I may have some questions as
well that I’ll single them out for. But the first question would
be, what does a mayor do? Because I just said
you all did it. Mayor Buttigieg. So there’s a line in
a novel about a mayor. It says he was one of those who
figured out early on in life which is the pulleys
and levers actually work and which are just for show. And I think as a mayor
you’re confronted with this array of pulleys
and levers, some of which have to do with the things
that are actually officially under your control. In my case, that’s police,
fire, trash pickup, but it’s not schools. And then there’s
all the things that aren’t exactly
under your control, but they matter to
you, and you need to do something about them–
education, public health. I have zero public
health staff, but I believe a certain mandate
for the public health of the community. And so I think the real question
is, what doesn’t a mayor do? Anything that bears on the
well-being of your community, either through the toolkit of
policy and local ordinances and local practice or
through the convening power and the fact that
sometimes you’re the only person you
can get your calls returned by members of different
competitive local tribes. It means that that’s
the thing you’re going to use to make your
home town better off. Good evening, everybody. Hope you are all well. I bring you greetings from
the Sunshine State of Florida. I walked around your city today. You could use some sunshine. With regard to the
role of the mayor, I am the mayor who
serves in a mayor manager form of government. So we’ve got a city
manager who tends to the day-to-day
operations, reports up to the mayor and
city commission. I could only echo this idea
of what doesn’t a mayor do, certainly as relates to what
the public expects of a mayor. They could care less about
our form of government. If I wanted to explain that to
them, citizens when they call with their complaints, they’d
be like, uh, huh, right, but my social security
check is late. And I’m like, local governments
don’t do social security checks, but you know what? Let me give somebody a call
and get right back with you. And that’s the real
answer that folks are looking for is your ability
to troubleshoot and problem solve and in times of
need show leadership, even if your formal
job description doesn’t prescribe a certain set
of responsibilities toward you. There is a public
expectation that if people, the citizenry in our city,
they don’t know anybody else, they typically know their mayor. They may not be able to name
the school superintendent, the school board. They may not even know who the
vice president or the governor of the state is. But they will more
than likely will be able to name
who their mayor is. And so we get the range of it. And what I have found
to be the most important of my responsibilities,
jobs, opportunities is the power to convene
people, and largely to convene the people
around ideas, big ideas, even ideas that I myself
may not be ultimately responsible for delivering on. I still have a responsibility
to bring people together to sort of hash through,
as you talked about, the range of issues. Public education is
a big thing for me. Our early childhood development
is a huge issue for me. Crime is what people want
me to look at and solve, but when you know that there
were a lot of inputs that impact that output,
which is the crime rate, then if you want to
be smart about it you’ve got to address
that much earlier down the line, which is why I’ve
taken to some of those issues. So it really is
whatever people want to stick on you is your
responsibility to solve. Well, well thanks for doing such
a great job on this question so that now I’m the
third speaker here to have to build on
awesome answers there. But to echo the
mayors’ sentiments, thank you so much for
joining us this evening and for the opportunity
to be with you all. To just kind of build
on some of that theme, I couldn’t agree more
with the sentiments there. And I guess for this
crowd something that might be of interest
and some thought provoking aspects
is that as you look at governance at other levels
of state and federal levels, and you see some of the
deadlock that may exist or the ideology that becomes a
stronger role in policies that are being projected at the
local level of government for all of the mayors of what
is it that we’re supposed to do, we still have to somehow
get these varying functions accomplished because
the citizens aren’t going to differentiate
between local, state, and federal levels
of government. They just want to know why is
my social security check late. And so you have to try and
be able to not only answer those questions, but
the role of the mayor, and I think of cities
and urbanized areas, is growing as we see mayors and
problem solvers then stepping up to be able to fill
the gap in places where state and federal
government either can’t or isn’t addressing
policy solutions. There’s no question,
mayors have to lead. Mayors have to manage. Mayors have to solve problems. Mayors convene. And mayors represent as well. In a unique way, mayors are the
public face of their cities. And I know if I asked them
what the most important thing in the city in the
world provides, they’d know the answer. That’s fresh water. And the second most important
thing is they take it away. And the third most important
thing is we pick up the trash. And it’s not sexy,
but it’s necessary. So in that job, and
you said it well, Mayor Milo, the
city’s have to happen. They have to function. Where do you get your ideas? How do you get up
every day and decide what you’re going to do next? Did you come in with an agenda? I had a broad
perspective of things that needed to be accomplished. And for my experience,
I became involved and ran for mayor because
of a specific problem that I saw happening
in my community, that we were essentially
bankrupt at the time that I became involved. And it baffled me that no
one had any sort of plan for how we were going to work
our way out of this problem. It was a situation
where the mayor said, well, the county has created
these problems for us and woe are we. OK, but a leader has
to solve these problems whether the county
created them or not. What are you doing? And so that was challenge number
one that had to be addressed. And then from that
I ended up going to every house in the city
when I was campaigning and talking to folks
about challenges that they saw across
the community. And that helped develop
a platform that created some pillars for us to address. And since that
time I have been so fortunate to interact
with department heads, team members internally
that I work routinely to empower and encourage
because I think they have amazing ideas in their
specific areas of expertise that I want to be able to unlock
and apply to different areas where they see opportunity. And also then the ability to
interact with fellow mayors and trade war stories,
serve as group support therapy in some ways, but also
then hear about not only ways that they’re addressing
similar challenges in their communities,
but looking beyond just the problem of what
are some exciting opportunities that may exist, particularly
as we think about larger issues that aren’t
being addressed by some of the other areas. And in many ways–
there’s an article that Mayor Bloomberg wrote
about how cities are addressing climate change and these
kinds of components, and so ways for us to talk
about some of those things. So I would say it’s a mixed
bag of where we get ideas, internally and externally. But you said you ran
for office because you saw a problem that no one else
was addressing or not at least not addressing effectively. And you thought you
could come in and make a difference on that problem. And then you begin to
work on the broader palette of the issues
that would be, correct? How about you, Mayor Gillum? Absolutely. Well, we had a policy
statement on everything. We wanted to do
economic development. We had an opportunity agenda,
a crime safety agenda, an agenda that we called Family
First, focusing on children and families and the future
trajectory, the opportunity that existed for every
child or that we wanted to exist for every child. I should tell you that I
served almost 12 years on city council, so all had it
was time to write ideas up until the opportunity
came to run for mayor. I get ideas from conversations. I get them from Facebook. I get them from Twitter feeds. I get them from people. We create intentional
opportunities for folks to plug in vis-a-vis
social media to let us know their own
thinking and their own thoughts and suggestions. There’s one idea that I borrowed
from a friend of mine who lived in Atlanta. They had this effort called,
I guess, Dining En Blanc, and a number of
cities that picked up on this eating, everybody
wears white and beautiful chandeliers, outdoors,
beautiful what not. And I was interested
in it because I thought it was a
neat opportunity to bring people together. Clearly models that
I looked at that was for entertainment purposes
and for quality of life, and I got that. But the challenge we had
at the time of my city, particularly coming after
the Ferguson incidents that took place, is that we had
different sides of our town who experience my
city differently. And that’s probably
true in every city. And so we were dealing
with a crime issue. And we had a public survey done. And 90% of the people said that
they feel safe in our city. And you juxtapose
90% of people saying they feel safe with an incident
I had with the two young men when we were away competing
for an All America City designation, I said, how’d
you all sleep last night? They’re like, we’re good man. We slept in a bed last night. I said, you slept
in a bed last night? You don’t normally
sleep in a bed? And he said, my mother
didn’t let us sleep in to bed because she doesn’t want to
get shot by a stray bullet at night, which was so
strange for me in my own city. And this is a city if
I didn’t grow up in, but I’ve spent a
number of years in. And it just reminded me that
there’s a disparate experience happening. And the fact that 90% of people
free to leave their doors open, their houses unlocked,
their car doors unlocked, and another side or neighborhood
that you’ve got a mother saying I don’t want my sons
to sleep in the bed because I’m afraid
of a stray bullet, whether I believe that
that is substantiated by the facts, the crime
statistics, doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that this is
that person’s and that mother’s lived experience. And it has to be
addressed in some way. And so the idea that
we ended up converting was this idea of
a longest table. And last week, two weeks ago,
we closed down a city street. And we built an
uninterrupted dinner table that sat about 1,000 people. And we had them register, and
we did some social engineering a little bit to
make sure that it was as representative
and diverse as possible. The idea was to have
people, yes, sit down, break bread together. But we ran a long trace down the
middle that had thought bubbles around questions around
poverty, economic opportunity, the crime rate in our city. What would you suggest
to make our city better? That was intended to
stimulate conversation. And the idea
ultimately is instead of when you hear about
a crime incident that happens to just say that’s that
side of town to cause people, because you now have a new
experience and a new point of contact and maybe
a new reason to care, that people would choose
to be more curious and less of judging about other
people’s experiences. And so when we have to
solve these problems as a community that is not just
South Side’s issue or East Side or North Side’s issue,
we’re community, is all of our issues. And now that you
know somebody who lives on the South
Side who experiences the city differently
than you do, maybe you won’t give the
mayor and the commission such a hard time
when we say we’ve got to invest some resources and
raise maybe some revenue to get at that issue or that problem. So Mayor Milo wanted
to solve a problem. You used you spent a lot of time
on council creating your list. True. So you came in
with a long agenda. How about you, Mayor. There was a mix. So there were some things that
were very specific, campaign promises I had to keep, like
I said we’re going to set up a 311 line within a year. So we did it. Phone line was the easy part. Organizing the way that
different departments handle service requests
was the hard part. Other issues we knew we were
going to work on something. We didn’t have the answer yet. So we knew there was an issue
with vacant and abandoned properties. I knew we had to do something. And I knew bring
people together. But it was only after a year
of bringing people together and doing these incredibly
sophisticated analytics on the whole thing that I came
out of it all with an almost childlike goal, which was,
all right, we’re going to do 1,000 houses in 1,000 days. Fix them up or tear him down. We’re going to address 1,000
vacant properties in 1,000 days. Go. And then we did it. But the most important thing
I had to do the day I arrived was start working on this issue
of having the city believe in itself again, which
is very squishy problem to get your arms around,
especially my background is more in consulting. I was mostly
concerned with things I could measure and quantify. But about a week after
I got into the race, I got a phone call
from the media saying, we’re just wondering
what your comment was on the Newsweek story. And I said, what Newsweek story? And they said, well,
it’s the one saying that South Bend is one of
10 American dying cities. That’s just after I got
in the race to be mayor. And so it was very clear
that we had to do something to establish that our
city was poised to thrive. But it’s the toughest thing
of all to get your arms. Around and over time we
figured out ways to do it. We built confidence
in the economy. We saw population grow. We threw an enormous
150th anniversary party for the city that had
about 50,000 people come. And it allowed me to say,
along with the rest of the city five years later that
South Bend was back. In terms of where
to look for ideas, you always start
with your community, especially when you’re
trying to figure out what the problems are to be solved. And there’s a lot of high tech
and low tech ways to do it. We asked around a
lot on the campaign. 311 is a great way to do it. Every month or two,
I set up a card table in a different school
somewhere in town. We just call it
Mayor’s Night Out. And any resident who
wants to come talk to me, first come first
serve, can come. And I make all the department
heads come in case we can fix their problem on the spot. So you soak up all
of the different kind of priorities and problems. When it comes to the
solutions, that’s the fun part because it
can come from anywhere. It can come from the same
citizens who are telling you about the problem. It can come from other mayors. That’s a very obvious
place to look because there are so many others
working on the same issues in different ways. But it can come from some
really an orthodox places. I’m brewing a couple
of ideas based on the conversation I had
with some students here this afternoon. A few hours ago I was on
the line with the executives from a video game company
who have been working in New Zealand to optimize
their traffic and bus system, because they figured
out in the course of making video games the solutions
to some data problems that had been an issue for
people trying to optimize public transportation. So in many ways, the
fun part is soaking up the different
solutions that exist. And then the hardest
part of all is deciding all the great
many great things that you’re not
going to do, so you can stick to the
handful of priorities that you’ve got
there to achieve. Former mayor of Houston told
me I ought to do three things and do them really well and
they’d build statues to me. I ignored him. I couldn’t help myself. There were too
many things to do. So I’m going to skip
over Mayor Gillum here because you were in office. But Mayor Milo, was it
the way you expected? The job itself? I don’t know that I
knew to set expectations for it going into it. That at the time that I
became involved and decided, OK, I’m going to
do this, I had been living in DC, that had been
my former duty station. I had been at the Pentagon. And this was my hometown. And I had no plans to come
back to my hometown in any way, shape or form, particularly
in this capacity. But then as I saw a problem
and saw it not being resolved, I can specifically remember
having my aha moment on the Metro in DC
and thinking about all that was going on and thinking,
man, somebody should really do something about this. Wait a minute, Blair,
when has it ever been your model to say somebody
else should do something about it? What are you going
to do about it? And that started
the process for me of kind of going back to that
previous question of trying to first solve that initial
issue that the city was– to save you all the details
of the problem– they weren’t collecting property taxes. The county wasn’t
collecting them. So the city was only receiving
around 60% of the revenue that they should’ve
been receiving, which local
government doesn’t get that much money to begin with. So when you’re
missing 40%, the roads certainly aren’t being paved. But they’ve gotten to
the point that they stopped mowing the parks. And so you go out to one of our
largest parks to go for a run and the grass literally
was up to my waist. And so then you’ve
got mosquitoes that are building nests
and things of that area. And so the first part for me
was just try and solve that. And then it built
into in order to be able to solve that, I’m
going to have to put myself in a position of
leadership to be able to affect those changes. How do I do that? Well, I’m going to
have to get elected. How am I going to do that? Well, I’m going to have to
go across to the community, introduce myself to as
many people as possible, because I zero name
ID because I’ve been deployed for the
last 10 years basically. And so how am I going
to work through that? And for me it was
always about what do we need to do to
get to the next step to solve some of
the larger issues. And I didn’t necessarily
set expectations amongst all of that of once
we get there, then this is what I think it’s going to
be like, because I was more focused on accomplish the next
step to the extent that come election night of
my first campaign, I hadn’t prepared an
acceptance or a victory speech, because it hadn’t
occurred to me. And so I get there and get the
results and, oh, my goodness, OK. And that then started a
whole different mindset of trying to figure
out, OK, now how are we going to operationalize
all of these ideas? And so I think every thing
has exceeded my expectations because I just didn’t
even necessarily know what to expect. And the opportunities to make
a difference for the community and interact with
people and see what the city is doing in
such a unique perspective is such a blessing
to me that I can’t have dreamed that it would have
been as rewarding as it is. Which I have to remind
myself of on some days. Mayor, how about you? Was it what you expected? I’m not sure I knew
what to expect. It’s harder and better
than I could have guessed. When I was a student, there
was an institute of politics when I was in college too. And I hung out
there all the time. And I never would’ve showed
up to something like this. You all are so far ahead. I was interested to the extent
that I cared about politics, I thought it was all about
the national picture. That was the big league where
the serious people went. Now you know better. I do. Serious people go
to go to cities. Back then I would
have gone to see the congressman speak
or the senator speak, but not so much the mayor. But I ran because
I cared about what was happening in my hometown. And I thought I could
make myself useful. And what’s amazing is
realizing just how important and how impactful
the local level is. I don’t think I was prepared
for how much attention you get. I have friends who are in
legislative bodies in state legislatures or Congress. And they spend a lot of
their time figuring out how to get attention. We spend all of our time
trying to figure out how to manage the
attention that comes. If I just said I’m having
a press conference tomorrow and didn’t say why, we’d
still have four TV cameras and a paper there, because
they’re based in our city and they may not
have anything better to cover that day locally. And so figuring out how
to handle that attention and use it well it has
taken more of my energy than I would have expected. And I was not quite ready for
the time management challenge that just dominates your
day-to-day decision making about literally just
what are you going to do. I remember the first
day I got in the office. I walked in, snow
flying, windows were kind of rattling– they
do that in the county city building in South Bend. Big desk, big conference
table, and flags in the corner of the room,
and I looked out the window. And I thought, OK, I know what
I want to do with the city. I know what want to do
with this term in office. I know what I want in
the first 100 days. What do we do right now? What do I do with
the next 30 minutes? Do I like to check my email? Like, what do I do? I wound up bringing
donuts to the street crews to emphasize the
importance of snowplowing. Getting tactical,
and I spent a lot– I have fun comparing
notes with other mayors, because it’s clear
that everyone has a different approach to that. But it really is an all
consuming, but incredibly rewarding way of life. So Mayor Gillum, you
did spend 12 years as a member of the council
before becoming mayor. And it is a different job. Can you describe what’s
really different between being mayor and council member? Well, we all vote,
that’s was equal. But I’m the that gets
blamed if it goes south. And they are not in a rush
to step up and join you. And I probably was the same
way under my predecessor mayor. It was like, OK, with the
mayor will deal with that. And whatever comes comes. But for me, I didn’t
recognize that even though I was on
city council for that long before becoming mayor that
it meant so something so much different for the public
when you encounter them. I would be with the
mayor when folks would come up and say things. And they could have just as
well said the same thing to me and it could have had the
same real practical impact, like, oh, I can
go and solve that. I can bring that up. I can get the vote. But they want to
say it to the mayor. And they don’t want to be
handed to another staff person. They don’t want to go
to another commissioner. They want to say to the mayor. And they also want the response
to come from the mayor. I think I didn’t
appreciate that as much. I thought it would be as easy
to say, oh, well, if we’re actually going to
get this done, let me get this person to do that
and they’ll get back to you. And folks will look at
you like, so you’re going to get back with me, right? Like you’re going
to get back with me? And so the expectation
around that was just a little bit different. The only other thing
I would highlight is I think a major difference
is my council does look to me, regardless of what the
issue is, to sort of speak up, and many times take the lead. And even if there are
more than three votes that disagree with me,
they’ll still let me but the position
out there first. And I think sometimes
I would much rather hear where they’re coming from. And even if I’m
decided on where I am, it helps me form
the argument that needs to be made in
order to win the vote. So there’s a negotiation
that is always going on. I didn’t appreciate
so much that there would be such a
difference in relationship between my colleagues
and myself, because we were always the ones
that talked about the mayor after the meeting. And my colleagues didn’t change. They were the same people. And we go to talk. And then the whole positioning
will be very different. I couldn’t be a part of
that conversation anymore. It would be different. I asked a colleague to
come in the other day to talk about something. He says, what I do? And I’m thinking, nothing, man. What’s going on? But that relationship
is different now. And so understanding and
managing that difference is a little bit hard,
especially for me and just by the nature of my makeup. So it’s different. So Mayor Gillum, every city
has a range of problems, if you could fix one, just like
it’d go away, what would it be? If I could face one it would
be poverty and what outcomes or outflow of poverty. Connected to poverty, I’d say
the crime rate in the sense that you have folks who are– so
everyone wants to blame or hold accountable the mayor, the
city council for a crime rate. They rarely ever invoke the
name of the state attorney who has set as their objective
a 90% prosecution rate, regardless of the incident. And so someone may come in
on a low level drug charge. But if the office of
the state attorney wants you to pursue
every case to prosecution and then that person ends up
going and getting adjudicated through the judicial system,
and they come out with a record, then it’s difficult
for them to find a job. And if they can’t
find a job, they can’t provide for themselves
and for their family and don’t let them
live or co-located with a partner or a spouse
who is in public housing. And by federal law,
you can’t have a record and also lives in
public housing. So the problem multiplies. And I’ve only got one
piece of this pie. I’ve only got a portion of it. Yet it’s being driven by so many
other outside factors, which is back to this
convening idea, the need to have to bring
people together, different folks, the
sheriff’s office, the city attorney, the state attorney,
the PD, us, the social services apparatus, the reentry folks. And it just mounts. It mounts. It mounts. It mounts. And I’m constantly in
a state of frustration around where do I intersect
this in such a way to have the most transformative
impact on changing this trajectory? Interrupting this cycle? And so we’ve tried– and it’s
more complicated for us– we tried investing in some
of the hardest impacted crime areas in our city by going
in and investing dollars in some of the social services
resources, a re-entry program, piloting a civil citation
adult and youth civil citation program, introducing a summer
jobs program that only allows those young people
who are growing up in those neighborhoods to get
access to those positions. And it was basically off a
study that I saw here in Chicago that it actually
wasn’t the summer job experience and the money that
they earned over that period that interrupted
the cycle, it was that experience and the impact
it had over the trajectory going forward. So it meant more than just
the summer job and the wages that came from it. The summer job and
the exposure that that interrupted a
cycle, and then made that person think
differently about, oh, well, what could my future
job opportunity? Oh, my goal is to one day
drive a car like yours. What do you have to
drive a car like mine? I got to go to school. OK, well, you go to school. Do you have to graduate? You to graduate. And then maybe community college
or maybe universe– OK, now I’m helping you because you
set as your objective to drive a car like mine and
to live in a house like mine. So let’s back up and figure
out how we get there. And so the wrap around approach
in these areas that we know are most highly devastated
and impacted by the problems we’re trying to interrupt
or solve going there. And it doesn’t help
for good sound bite because most people
want it right now. Is the crime weight lower
today than it was yesterday? And then what about
the day before? And we’re saying, well, this
is more systemic than that. And I have faith
that over time, just between last year and
this year, at this point our crime rate is down 16%. And so it’s starting
to show effect. But if I had to be
measured from day to day, it would be a much more
difficult issue to sell. I like the way you went poverty,
but then you immediately went to practical things where
crime rates, incarceration, and a series of steps
that you took from that. Mayor Milo, what about you? Is there one thing
that you could solve, that you would tackle? Well, I think the theme
that you’ll probably hear from all three of us is
that even if we say one thing, that one thing is then the
tip of a lot of fingers that then stem from that. One of the growth areas
for me, I think personally, professionally,
and in a leadership capacity throughout
my tenure, has been to try and set some of
those expectations that I didn’t have previously to
then think about your job is to set forward the
vision for this community and what the community’s
expectations should be for themselves. And so to try and pick one
area that if we solved it, I would go back to the vision
that we’ve had for my last two state of the city addresses
that I’ve been able to present. And that is a
vision for La Porte to be the happiest Hoosier city. And the idea being that
if you define happiness as the opportunity
to earn success and to feel as though you’ve
made a difference in the world around you. Because you can define happiness
in a zillion different ways. But if you settle on–
those two components are what we are setting forward
for everyone to be happy, then that ties in with the
three pillars of growth areas and focus areas that
my administration has had of providing for
a positive climate for economic development
growth, building sustainable infrastructure
across the community, and fostering positive
lifestyle choices. So you start with I want to
be the happiest Hoosier city. How are we going to be
the happiest Hoosier city? Everyone has to have
equal opportunity to earn success and
feel as though they’ve made a difference in
the world around them, however they individually
want to define those things. How are we going to make
sure that they have those two components? Well, then we have
to continue to grow economically development
opportunities, those work components
for folks to be able to feel as
though they’ve earned that success, to your
point of the summer jobs, that it was a whole different
mentality because now they felt that they’d earned this. And it opened a whole new
perspective for folks. So that’s the economic
development piece. And then the sustainable
infrastructure, you have to be able to
get around the community and be able to actually
live in this environment. So you have to fix potholes
and things of that nature, provide for water, waste water. And fostering positive
lifestyle choices, that when you look at the health
statistics across the country, they are incredibly daunting. And the place to start
working towards fixing it from, I think, a public
policy perspective, outside of having the first
step being the family, but then you have local government to try
and impact some of those areas. What are we doing
to then have people lead healthier, happier lives? All of which then
contributes in my mind to how do we grow the
assessed valuation? How do we grow the
population in the community? You want to be a place that
people want to come and live. We’re the happiest Hoosier city. Mayor? So we have to start
at the beginning. And to me that’s what
is the meaning of life? I know we haven’t
got that much time. No, it’s almost time
to go to the audience. Ahem. So I don’t know what
the meaning of life is for any individual resident. But I know they care
about something. There’s something that
makes their life work. And it’s different. For some people it’s
about faith and family. For some people
it’s about learning. For some people it’s
about building a business. But whatever matters
in your life, whatever makes a difference to between
whether you’re thriving or not, it can be made easier
or harder by the city that you’re living in. And so we view our job is
to deliver services that empower everyone to thrive. We can’t make you thrive. But we can empower you
to thrive in the sense that if there’s no good road
to get where you’re going or you can’t get a glass of
clean, safe drinking water, you can’t thrive. And if we take care
of those things, so you don’t have to
even worry about them, you’re one step
closer to living out whatever the good life
looks like for you. And the way we do that, of
course, is delivering services. And so we test–
we actually started trying to catalog
all the things we do from put out a fire
to send you a water bill to pick up a dead raccoon. We try to list it out as a give
finite catalog of services. And if it’s not a service that
empowers everyone to thrive, and the everyone part there is
a lot of thinking about a lot now, then we shouldn’t be doing. So since poverty was taken,
I’m going to give you that. Although that’s the biggest
element of it that’s on my mind right now. I’m going to ask you
guys two more questions. And then we;re going
to go to the audience. But are there times when
you’ve gotten it wrong and you wish you had a do over? Let’s start with you, just
as you take a drink of water. Sorry about that. Oh, yeah. The things that get to your
level as a mayor are hard. That’s why you get the big desk. And of course, you
get some of them wrong, especially if
you’re doing things. If you’re not getting
anything wrong, this could be an indication
that you’re not doing anything. And so there are small
things and big things. I mean, we tried to
do a road one time. And we were just–
we were wrong. And we found that
out the hard way. Not after doing it,
but after seeing enough of the public uproar
that I was convinced otherwise. The more serious example
was prioritizing. So everybody was talking–
I first ran in 2010, 2011. Everybody’s talking about the
economy, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, crisis of confidence
in the business community, figuring out how
to deliver jobs. In fact, that’s one of the
biggest things we’ve worked on. And I think we’ve done it well. And I’m proud of it. But I remember a moment
when we were figuring out which things fell where in
the pecking order of what we were going to work on. And I was sitting with my team
before we’d even taken office. And we were talking
after hours about what we were going to focus on. And I looked at my
cheeseburger and answered one of their
questions by saying, I don’t think we were elected
to concentrate on reorganizing the police department. We were elected to
focus on the economy. And I was about three
weeks into the job when we had a visit from
federal investigators. And I found out that dealing
with the police department, even though we did hear about it
as much on the campaign trail, was very important indeed. And I learned that
lesson the hard way. And won’t make
that mistake again. Mayor Gillum? There’s a lot of
pressure when you first come in as mayor to make a mark
and to be clearly identified with if you weren’t
there to do it, it would not have been done. And I would, if I
had it to do again, I’d have resisted the urge to
go so hard in that direction in the first several weeks. And the example I’d give is
early childhood education is a big thing to me. I have two-year-old twin kids. We read a bunch of stuff. There is no manual on
how to be a good parent. There are things my
mother and my father did to me that the books say
you ain’t supposed to do. So it’s a good thing– The earliest years
of a human’s life is so pivotal to the
rest of their lives. Zero to five, zero to three,
almost 90% of brain development happens. 95% between zero and five,
rapid, rapid, rapid growth. And the way that I grew up
and so many poor neighborhoods this is true, but it really
crosses all income brackets, a lot of people still
have an outdated view of what happens in
those early periods. So they treat them
as throwaway years. We goo goo ga ga
our way through it when the kids are reabsorbing. They need to know, you want to
have high level conversations. They want to be talking
about, describing what it is you’re doing, what’s happening. The word gap is vast
between poor kids and kids from middle and upper
income households, almost 90,000 word difference
between upper income and low income households. So I started by saying we’re
going to a family first agenda. And we’re going to
kick this thing off with a big family first summit. And I knew that
ultimately that there was going to be a need for
us to address the financing piece of this. How do we make high
quality early childhood education more affordable? That the city’s budget could
not accommodate that alone. That it would require a number
of partners coming together. And while I did the difficult
work of going out and trying to bring private sector folks,
my staff, and city government staff, I left a really
important piece of that. And that was a number
of elected officials who also at a certain point
would need to weigh in on this. And so by the time
the conference came around it was a wild
success from the standpoint that advocacy agencies,
parents, families are all very excited that
this is now in the forefront. But missing from
that first convening where a lot of
elected officials who would have ultimately needed
and still ultimately need. So what that has
caused is I’ve now had to go back in
the year since that, and I’m like hand holding,
in individual meeting, several meetings
with the same person. And had I done it
differently, had we done a better job of
bringing folks in and making them feel like they were also a
part of whatever was coming out of that and that
it wasn’t me just trying to make the statement
that finally for the first time we were prioritize
families and children, but that we as a
community were going to prioritize
families and children, it could have saved a lot
of time a lot of heartache. And so I feel in some ways that
because of my initial approach that it is delayed our
work by a year for all of the makeup that’s had to
happen in order to get us now to a place where we’re all
at the same starting line, fully believing and invested
in what the data says and believing we ought
to do something to move this whole issue forward. That’s a year that
I’ll never get back. And that’s a year
more importantly, not that I won’t get back, but
that this issue still sits, it’s latent and unprogressed. That’s an excellent
example, but it’s often hard to determine who
the stakeholders are in any particular problem. And that goes back to
the convening power. If you’re the convener,
you have to know that needs to be in the room. Mayor Milo? Well, as I’ve been sitting here
trying to think of examples, I have one that’s
very similar to that of that we were trying to move
forward a complete streets initiative. Complete streets is
a philosophy that says that when you’re looking
at an infrastructure project you’re not just going
to try and fix the road, but you’re also
going to consider non-motorized, alternative
types of transportation in trying to encourage
pedestrian and cycling type traffic. And part of the impetus for
having such an ordinance was to be able to have access
to some grant money that requires having such
an ordinance in place. I thought this is a no brainer. The ordinance that
we put together does not require the city
to do anything specific. There is no financial
commitment to this. And so I didn’t try and
pre-brief the council on any of this, because I
thought this is a no brainer. This is just admin to
be able to have access to for their grant money. But trying to convince the
council after you put it on the table when you haven’t
brought them in from the get go to massage that
message, same situation. It took us probably six
months to try and get that through,
because thankfully I did have an advocate on
the council who then said, let’s go ahead and
table this right now, which bought me some time to
then be able to work the system to get the other council
members up to speed on there really isn’t a reason that
you would need to oppose this. And so a very similar situation
that was a big learning curve for me. And the other
instance that I think was one that I have to remind
myself of still regularly in other scenarios, which is
more of a leadership lesson that I have to learn again,
more often than I’d like, of when you are in a
position of leadership and going into a group where
you do want to build consensus and create innovative
type ideas and foster this kind of discussion, if
you go into these scenario even with the most
talented people that are going to be a
part of this conversation, if you don’t put forward a
vision or something to build off of for the conversation, you’re going to have a
very fascinating discussion for however long you’re going
to sit there, two, five hours, and get nowhere. That unless you have
some sort of framework that you’re going to build
off of and say, hey, here’s a thought, what do
you think of this? Should we just this? Should we adjust this? And how do we address
those different areas, make this better? That’s the way that you move
some of these concepts forward. Otherwise you’re just going
to keep sitting there talking amongst yourselves,
and still have good intellectual
discussion, but you’re not going to move the
ball down the field. And I’ve had that happen at
a couple of different council meetings where
particularly if it’s an issue that I’m
less passionate about, and so I want to leave it to
the council to weigh in and have a perspective, give
them this one of to feel a little bit more important,
this one can be yours. Let me know what you
want to do with it. You’ll sit around
and have group think for the remainder of the
meeting and never go anywhere. So you have to have that
leadership perspective of give them something to then– Even if it’s only a target
for them to shoot at. Exactly. And I’ve had to do that
on task forces too. I’m going to have to bring
us out to the microphone. This has been a great,
great conversation. But I know there’s going to
be some folks with questions. Got a moderator out there. Just making sure. Go ahead. Hi. My name’s Kenneth Newman. I’m a local resident. Many cities or counties
across the country are struggling to build enough
soccer fields due to the growth of the game across the country. I happen to work in soccer. What are your cities doing
to build new soccer fields? This is the kind of
question you always get in town hall meetings. And I’m assuming the
answer is we’re all trying to build soccer
fields, because it is a very popular sport. Anybody want to answer that? Or is that just a yes. I think it’s a part
of a larger discussion too that we want to see more
recreational facilities. So soccer is included
in a whole portfolio of efforts and
growing parks programs and things of that nature. So it’s a whole host of
different ways to do that. The biggest demand we get– yes,
there are some roads, pick up trash, or other kind of
stuff– the most agitation and excitement you get is
around our parks and rec. It’s like we’re playing
on a ball field, and it’s halfway
across town, and I want to play on the field
that’s closest to our home. Well, we have an
equity rule, which means we rotate everybody. You don’t get to stick at one. There’s a lot of
energy around it. We put a lot of resources, time,
energy, energy, and energy, and lot of energy to
try to move that issue. But it’s an important one. And you’re right, it’s spiking
certainly in cities like ours where it’s a 12 months
kind of say versus here where it’s limited. Yeah, they have winter up here. Parks and recreation. It’s huge. I know that two of
you live in the cities with the other football
that’s important. But the real football is
the one that’s growing. Hi. My name’s Alex Mobashery. And I’m from South
Bend, Indiana. This question is
primarily directed at Mayor Buttigieg
and Mayor Milo, but what motivated you guys to
move back to your hometowns? And why would you encourage
students from Indiana to move back? Well, aside from the
fact the South Bend is a great place to live–
and actually, I recently moved for a more
practical reason, which was that I was
consulting here in Chicago. And I was in a
consulting lifestyles where you’re on the road
four days, five days a week, sometimes more. And I thought if I was going
to pay to not live somewhere, I was going to stop paying
Chicago prices to not live here and start
paying South Bend prices. But another thing was going
out at the same time was just this awareness–
maybe you experienced this moving for college–
when I grew up in South Bend, the sense was that
success meant getting out. And that’s what I did. I got far away to
go see the world. And that’s when I
began to realize I was actually from somewhere. And it matters to
be from somewhere. And the difference between
your community that you grew up and any other community,
I think for a lot of us is really powerful. And I felt this tug
toward South Bend. And these things I didn’t know
about myself that I gradually realized were a result
of where I grew up. And I saw a chance
to make a difference. It was home. It’s a city that’s
just big enough to have every city
problem as you know and also just small enough
that you can kind of get your arms around
and try new things and gather all the people
who care about that issue and deal with it. And so the opportunity– I
didn’t realize at the time it was going to end in
me running for mayor. But the opportunity to go
home and be part of that, just to know what it means
to be part of the community was a lot more
compelling than I would have understood when I
was 18 in South Bend, kind of looking for the exits. Similar type of thought
process for me as well. And I got out courtesy of
the United States Navy. And so I had a
tremendous opportunity to see many different
parts of the world and to realize how fortunate
I was to not only be an American citizen but to have
grown up in a community where it still does have the
feeling of small town America. I mean, we are a city
of a little over 22,000, which I always thought
was a small city, until I started visiting
other cities in Indiana and realize that we’re a
bustling metropolis compared to a lot of other places. But I grew up in a neighborhood
where all the kids just played outside until
somebody called you home for dinner and the
street lights turned on. And it was because there
was a general sense of the neighborhood collective
parents looking after the kids. And that still does exist
to an extent in La Porte. And I realized the
value and the treasure that we had in my hometown that
I took for granted as somebody growing up there until you
see what the rest of the world is like in a very different way. And so that gave me
a unique perspective on just how awesome northern
Indiana and then my hometown is and to realize that the
opportunities that I’d had to experience that came
from this community that gave so much to me, to
contribute towards my growth as a human being,
and then to have those professional
opportunities to go and do this, and now knowing how difficult
it can be for a young person to come back, I
thought, well, given what this city has done
for me, is it not incumbent upon me to now try and come back
to make it easier for someone to have this experience that
I was so fortunate to receive? I think we all
represent our hometowns. Do you as well? I don’t, no. You grew up in Florida though? I did. I started from the bottom. Miami, I was born
in Miami, finished high school in
Gainesville, lived a short while in Jacksonville,
went to college in Tallahassee. So I’ve been all over the state. But you’re now
representing the city where– you had formative years
if you went to college there. Absolutely. So the other three of us
represent our hometowns. Thanks for the question. Thanks so much. Good evening. My name is Sebastian. I’m from South Bend, Indiana. So my question applies
to all speakers tonight. We heard about why you
chose to run for mayor. But why did you choose to enter
politics or the government at a local level? And also, being so young,
successful, but also ambitious, do you see yourself staying in
the local politics where you’ve reached the epitome
of or do you plan on moving on to bigger things
in the state or federal level? OK, so I’m going
to stop you there. And I’m going to tell you that
local government is the highest level of government. And I think we agree to that. But so future ambitions? I think they’ve answered quite
well why they ran for mayor. But if you want to answer
whether you want to move up. I’ll be candid and
say that I never expected to get to
serve in this capacity. And if there’s an opportunity
to serve more people, absolutely, I’d love that
kind of an opportunity. That all would have to
be balanced amongst being able to do something. We started talking about
this earlier as to people that decide they want
to run for office, but they don’t even
know what office it is that they want to run for. And there is a very
distinct difference, and I’ll even be so bold to say
is a big need for more people to want to do something rather
than to want to be something. And so if there’s an
opportunity to do something, then I’ll look to fill
in that opportunity. But if not, then I love being
able to do the things that we do in our community. And local government
has a very unique way that oftentimes gets
misunderstood of an ability to answer so many different
challenges, areas. I had an opportunity to
visit with a gentleman from your hometown
in Miami that he is the clerk of the courts
for the county there. This gentleman by the
name of Harvey Reuben. And I was there as a part of
an international delegation of people from 12 different
Asian countries and then three Americans. And we all are
thinking why are we going to meet with the
clerk of the courts here. And in the whole delegation
was about climate change. And we’re thinking,
what is this about? And it was fascinating to
hear Harvey Reuben talk about why he decides to still
be– he had been a county commissioner and then became
the clerk of the courts because of the fact that climate
change has impacted Miami in such a local,
dynamic way that then he worked with other commissioners
to build a regional perspective on climate change,
which he worked on this for so many years
that he gathered a coalition from
the other counties not only in southern Florida but
around the coastal basin there and then an international
perspective. And Harvey Rubin became a
participant in and a driving force for the Kyoto Protocol. And here’s a guy that’s
the clerk of the courts. And I think it’s a great
example of just the impact that local government can have. I love being able to
vote on Wednesday night and it has Thursday impact. It moves very, very– you
have the potential for things to move very, very quickly
to the point of– because I talk with and in community
with a lot of college students. And some of them,
many of them do say that they want they want
to be an elected official. And we do have to be careful
with how we deal with people who say, I want to be
an elected official, because I don’t think there’s
anything wrong with that desire to render that kind of service. What I always try to encourage
folks is just to pull back the layers of this idea that you
want to be an elected official, go a little bit deeper, because
I actually think the motivation is something much deeper than
the fact that you want to– you don’t want to necessarily– I
hope you don’t– because you want to be Mr. Mayor, Mr.
Commissioner, Mr. Whatever, that’s short lived. And believe me you’ll get
over it very, very quickly. The motivation is
much deeper than. And it’s OK to
say, you know what? I actually think I have a real
unique ability and appetite to want to change things. Things that I see that are
wrong that are broken that I think I can help make better. And that’s OK. An elected official
is just one outlet on the road to doing that. Non-profit leadership
is another. There are a lot of
different ways to do it. But if that exists in
you, I wouldn’t ignore it. I mean, I ran for home because
I wanted nacho cheese Doritos in third grade and they
had tortilla chips. And everybody knows tortilla
chips have no cheese on them. But I lost that whole
thing, but I thought I could do something about it. So and that just multiplies. As the issues get
bigger, that appetite doesn’t get– that’s good. That’s appetite
doesn’t go any where. You know what I’m saying? But I mean, I want to encourage
you on this that you just go deeper than whatever–
and I don’t even know if you have a motivation. But if there is a
desire to do that, don’t let anybody
shake that out of you. Just get in touch with
what the real motive, which is maybe that you
just want to help folks and you think you
have a unique ability. The job is not the goal. It’s a tool. Absolutely. So Mayor Buttigieg? I enthusiastically agree
with that sentiment. The only thing I
think I could add is we’re actually I think living
in a moment when the local has never been more relevant and
what’s happening in cities. Blair’s example is so great. You look at the C40, which
is a collective of cities working on climate. It doesn’t get more global
than climate, right? But because of maybe
some constraints that are there in state,
national governments, especially these days,
you’ve got cities working together
with other cities, even across
international borders, not even waiting for national
governments to catch up. And when you are
in a city– I’ve actually gained from some
of the challenges that are happening in Washington
right now, because it helps me punch above my weight
from a recruiting perspective. So I think the same kind of
people who are impact oriented, motivated people, might have
on to Capitol Hill in the past, or wherever the talented
people were going, the kind of people who
went to NASA in the 60s, and Wall Street in the 80s,
and Silicon Valley in the 90s, I think are largely
going to cities right now to do civic innovation, because
they can see the actual impact. And that’s so exciting. I think it’s one reason that
a lot of mayors, not all, but a lot of mayors would tell
you that federal office would be a step down. Thank you. Hi, my name is Abbie Brockman. And I’m also from
South Bend, Indiana. I swear we didn’t wind
this up on purpose. I’m beginning to
question this, Mayor. When I’m in South
Bend, I think I tend to be very critical
of Notre Dame, which is a very wealthy
university and institution kind of butting up against some
very poor areas in the city. And then I kind of reverse
roles, and I come here, and I’m a student at a very
wealthy institution that butts up against some of the
poorest areas in the city. And I think I kind of
always wonder, like, what is and isn’t a
university’s role? Like how can the
city leverage it? Like where’s the
university’s place? I’m going to ask Mayor Gillum. You are a university
city, start with you. Yeah, I mean we’ve got Florida
State University, Florida A&M University, and a
community college. And you got me
thinking on this one, because I think there
is a role that we’ve tried to blend in this
whole– we say town down. But it’s basically the
city and the university. And one way that
I’ve tried to find partnership opportunities
is both our institutions have great research
arms to them. And we’ve got really
big, what feels like, systemic and sometimes
intractable local issues. So I always say everybody who
comes out of the university has got an idea and they
want to start a nonprofit. And whether it has
impact, any of that, is just work of the heart, and
therefore we should have it. And so we’ve tried to
connect the research capacity and the volunteer
capacity of the university to some of our
community’s problems and trying to work
together to solve those. But the university has a huge
role that it can and, I think, should play in helping
to address issues in the communities
that surround it, particularly in
FAM U’s role, which is a historically black
college and university that is positioned on land that
is at the foot– it was throwaway land for the state. And it also happens to be right
in the middle of the poorest area of the city. And the role that
it plays just by way of inspiring the kids that are
around it that, man, that’s the Academy. And maybe one day
I can get there. But there’s got to be outreach. You can’t build
ivory tower walls around these institutions. There’s got to be outreach. So the students play a role. But also the academic
and the research capacity of these institutions,
if they’re not thinking about the role they
can play in South Bend or here in Chicago and the
abutting areas, but also in the larger
Cook County, Chicago area, I think that’s a problem. And students often drive
the initiative on that, and sometimes the professors,
administrators, as part of the goal, the mission
of the institution, they see their role as
being more significant. Anything else? I think that was that
was our last question. You cut us off. Thank you for being here. [APPLAUSE] I want to say a special
thanks to Mayor Parker. This is her third time
here on campus with us and appreciate you coming
up from Houston to do this. She’s also someone who knows
the world of the Institute of Politics quite well, not
just from her past visits here, but having recently finished
a stint at Harvard’s IOP. So we’re grateful for all
you’re doing in the way to inspire young people. And a special thanks
to all of our fellow mayors here on this panel. I think that last
note was a fitting one to end on as we think about
the university’s relationship to cities. All of you here, especially
the students in the audience, have a great opportunity
to make change right here on the South Side
of Chicago in this community. I know many of you are
already doing that. I also think that your
examples of leadership, in some cases staying in the
town that you attended college, and other cases
returning to hometowns create a great, exciting,
and inspiring pathway for us to follow. So thank you all very much. Thank you so much for
your great questions. Thanks again to I House and
to JP Morgan Chase Foundation. Have a great evening.

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