South Bend’s longest serving mayor says he has served long enough.
“I am not planning to seek re-election next year as mayor of the City of South Bend,” Stephen Luecke said during a noon news conference Wednesday.
Mayor Luecke is about to complete his 14th year in office. While Luecke says he’ll stick around for a 15th year, we will not seek a fourth term.
“It was a tough decision,” Luecke said. “I love doing the job, feel that we’ve got a number of great things going on but I also recognize that no matter where you are in your career you will always have something else that you want to finish, but really, as I looked at it it was hard for me to make a commitment to five more years serving as mayor with the energy that it takes with the work that’s involved in running a city of this size.”
It was a hard decision for the mayor to make—and a hard decision to talk about.
Luecke’s voice trembled with emotion before he paused to regain his composure and say, “It was a hard decision because I love the job, but I feel like the right time to pass on.”
That means for the first time since 1987, there will not be an incumbent in the mayor’s race.
Mayor Luecke said he had been thinking about his decision for a long time.
“Really have been thinking about it for four years you know, Peg says I told her four years ago that this was my last term and it just took me this long to confirm it.”
Mayor Luecke’s run for office may have turned into quite the marathon, but he’s now ready for the last lap.
“Ultimately had to make the decision whether I had the fire in the gut for five more years in office, and you know I think it seems like the time is right. That we've set a great foundation for a next administration to build on, and, and I know there will be some very positive strong candidates out there so seemed like the right time to pass the torch.”
The mayor’s decision apparently did not stem from a fear of losing his position at the polls. “I absolutely would have won if I had run,” the mayor said.
But instead the mayor is content to finish out his current term and leave things to his legacy, after that.
“Well first, I hope that they recognize that I had a heart for the community, and secondly that we tried to bring people together in many different ways.”
The mayor pointed to a strengthened relationship with the University of Notre Dame, “in particular economic development initiatives, the ability to work with them on the creation of Innovation Park and Ignition Park, I think will be transforming for our community and allow us to really set a stage for new high tech jobs in South Bend.”
Mayor Luecke said he had a year to think about what he might do after he leaves office, but he didn’t rule out another possible run for another elected office.
The mayor also said he may decide to endorse a candidate in the 2011 race for mayor.
The St. Joseph County Democratic Party released this statement regarding the mayor's announcement:
"The St. Joseph County Democratic Party would like to publically thank Mayor Steve Luecke for all of his fine efforts and his accomplishments as South Bend Mayor since 1997.
From the time that Steve Luecke served on the South Bend City Council as First District Councilman and then as South Bend’s longest serving Mayor, he has worked hard to make South Bend a better place to live. During his tenure as Mayor, Steve Luecke and his administration have worked with downtown merchants to bring about an increased vibrancy to our city. Places like the South Bend Chocolate Café, the LaSalle Grill, CJ’s Pub, Fiddler’s Hearth and other fine establishments have become points of destination in downtown South Bend.
Mayor Luecke, his administration and the South Bend City Council have worked together to improve South Bend’s Police station and fire stations in order to provide the best possible public safety for the people who live, work and visit our city.
Mayor Luecke has worked with other levels and units of government to keep South Bend fiscally sound in both good and bad economic times.
We are proud of his open and honest style while Mayor of our great city. He has worked tirelessly for South Bend and the entire Michiana community. The one thing that has always shown through is Mayor Steve Luecke’s love for South Bend and the people who call South Bend home.
Thanks again, Mayor Steve, for a great job!"