SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- South Bend’s missing mayor is a man on a mission as a Naval Reservist in Afghanistan.
Lt. Pete Buttigieg today took time out to catch up with the folks back home via Skype. “It’s pretty warm and pretty dusty so I’m afraid my running routine has been crimped pretty severely, a little less running and a little more lifting (weight lifting) out here.”
The mayor has been gone for about five months and won’t return home for at least another two.
Pete Buttigieg seemed to be in pretty good spirits for a guy who traded in his trademark blue blazer for a bulletproof vest. “I miss the people the most, friends and family. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into a cheeseburger back home.”
In Afghanistan, “mayor” is a nickname--not a title--and living in luxury means the shipping container you sleep in has air conditioning. “I share a shipping container with one roommate. They tell me we might get another one pretty soon. There’s not quite enough room for a table or a desk.”
While Buttigieg is not on the ballot, he is focused on some upcoming elections. “It’s an election year. The first peaceful democratic transfer of power that this country’s ever had,” said Lt. Buttigieg. “An election in a country where a lot of the population is nomadic and not everybody can read, obviously presents some different challenges from what we're used to back at home when it comes to getting out the vote.”
Lt. Buttigieg works for the Afghan Threat Finance Unit to deny funding to insurgents from the narcotics trade.
The missing mayor does keep in contact with members of his administration at least once a week so he can hit the ground running when he returns. “Somewhere in October and I tell you I can’t wait. I’m obviously proud and honored to do what I do here, but that date can’t come soon enough.”
Buttigieg says the best thing well-wishers can do is to donate school supplies or children’s clothing. “I had a chance to actually go out and go with some fellow service members here and deliver a lot of the donations folks and supplies some of which came from South Bend. Really made me proud of our hometown that they supported the people of Afghanistan in that way.”