South Bend Mayor gives State of the City address

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivered his State of the City address to more than 100 residents at Lasalle Intermediate School Wednesday night.

Buttigieg touted the city's successes over the past year, such as its high credit rating and the hiring of several new department heads.

But, much of his speech focused on what he says is an optimistic future for South Bend.

After observing a moment of silence for the victims of Sunday's fatal plane crash on North Iowa Street before his address, Buttigieg applauded the efforts of firefighters and police officers during the hectic hours that followed.

"We witnessed the horrifying site of an airplane in the living room of a South Bend home," he said. "The destruction was unbelievable, though it could have been much worse."

Buttigieg says the city needs to ensure firefighters can continue to perform well in chaotic, dangerous situations. In order to do so, the city is investing in building the Luther J. Taylor Sr. Fire Safety Training Center.

"It will provide firefighter training including certification, special teams operations, live fire exercises, and extrication," Buttigieg said. "But, just as importantly, it will provide training and education for the public."

In addition to focusing on fire safety, Buttigieg says he's committed to improving safety on South Bend's streets.

In 2012, the city saw more than 20 homicides -- many of them victims of gun violence.

To help combat the ongoing issue, Buttigieg is forming an Anti-Violence Commission, which will be co-chaired by South Bend's police chief and a member of the Board of Public Safety.

"This commission is not there to write a report," Buttigieg said. "They are there to stop the shooting, and at their first meeting in April I will call on them to apply evidence-based approaches that have worked in other communities."

Buttigieg also outlined his strategies for increasing jobs and growth in South Bend, as well as how the city will reduce vacant and abandoned housing.

Many residents who attended the address say while they may not agree with the mayor on everything, they think Buttigieg is trying to steer South Bend in the right direction.

"We've all got to try to come together," said South Bend resident Darryl McKinney. "We're all going to have differences, but if everyone can start believing in one another, I believe we'll start having a better city."

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