Mayor Buttigieg talks about balancing his two oaths - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Mayor Buttigieg talks about balancing his two oaths

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From his conference room at the County-City Building, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made an announcement he always knew was possible Thursday.  "I recently received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," Buttigieg told a crowded room full of media and council members.

Buttigieg, a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserve, is set to deploy on February 28th 2014.  He'll go to Chicago, train for a brief time and then head to Afghanistan to serve until September 30th.

"For a number of reasons, including operational security, personal safety, and military policy, I cannot discuss my assignment in detail," Buttigieg said.  What we do know is that the mayor is trained as a intelligence officer.

The possibility of deployment is something the mayor said he made clear to voters.  "In asking voters to elect a reservist to office, I was also asking them to account for that possibility," he said. 

Council members in attendance for the mayor's announcement expressed pride in his service.  "It's great to see young men like him serving the country like that, a lot of times that goes unheralded," said Councilman Derek Dieter.

Now the administration and the council have five months to get things in order before the mayor goes on active duty.  "It helps us to look and examine what we need to take care of now, things that the mayor can take off his table now, that we can all agree to," said Councilman Oliver Davis.  "Let's take them off the table now." 

The mayor assured the public your water will run, fires will be put out and the city will function in his absence.  In the meantime, he asked for  support as he strives to balance his fidelity to two different oaths he has sworn, one to the city, the other to the country.
 
So who will lead the administration while the mayor is on active duty?  Buttigieg says he will designate City Controller Mark Neal as Deputy Mayor.  Neal is a Notre Dame Grad.  Before becoming Controller he lead an executive and financial management consulting firm.  "I'm committed to serving Mayor Pete's vision for South Bend to be a strong and open city for everyone where everyone can thrive," Neal said as he addressed reporters Thursday. 

Councilman Gavin Ferlic spoke highly of the future Deputy Mayor.  "Mark Neal is incredibly intelligent and very thoughtful," Ferlic said.  "I do anticipate that things will run smoothly."

The council will have to approve a salary for Neal when he becomes Deputy Mayor.  To off-set the cost to taxpayers Mayor Buttigieg said he will NOT draw a salary during his deployment.

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