South Bend, Indiana, once a victim of "brain drain" and a shrinking population, has grown and improved under young Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, but more than a quarter of the population lives at or below the poverty line, according to NPR.
Just about 14 percent of the country is at poverty or below, NPR reported, providing a tale of caution for those who believe Buttigieg is ready to run the country as a 2020 presidential candidate, according to activist Lisa DeBerry.
"That's like a mother having her own children and not taking care of them and then wants foster children," DeBerry told NPR. "It's like no, we're not going to give you more."
Buttigieg's burgeoning 2020 campaign is trumpeting his success as turning around a South Bend – "we transformed the trajectory of our city" he says – albeit not for everyone, according to DeBerry.
"You're doing a lot for downtown and you're building hotels and apartments that people who are native to this town can't even afford, even the people with college degrees," DeBerry told NPR. "So it's like, who are you developing that for?"
Still, Buttigieg has the positive energy of small city growth on his résumé, according to a former high school classmate Jake Mitchell.
"There's a definite difference in how it used to be versus how it is now – just kind of an intangible feeling." Mitchell told NPR. "You know, everything seems nicer, cleaner."
Buttigieg taking credit for South Bend's rise from the ashes is "disingenuous," according to Jason Critchlow, a candidate to replace Buttigieg as mayor.
"I think there's a feeling here that it's disingenuous to pretend that one person had solely to do with any of the progress made here in South Bend," Critchlow told NPR. "I think there's been literally decades of public servants that have gotten us to where we are today."
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