American Mayors running for President
Research by City Mayors*

ON THIS PAGE: Cory Booker, Former Mayor of Newark ||| Pete Buttigieg, Current Mayor of South Bend ||| Julian Castro, Former Mayor of San Antonio ||| Bill De Blasio, Current Mayor of New York City ||| John Hickenlooper, Former Mayor of Denver ||| Wayne Messam, Current Mayor of Miramar ||| Bernie Saunders, Former Mayor of Burlington |||



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Mayors running for US President:
Their
accomplishments & policies

May 2019:
Among the 24 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States are seven serving and former mayors. The three serving mayors are New York City’s Bill De Blasio, South Bend’s Pete Buttigieg and Miramar’s Wayne Messam. The list of former mayors includes Cory Booker (Newark), Julian Castro (San Antonio), John Hickenlooper (Denver) and Bernie Sanders (Burlington). Should one of the seven candidates succeed all the way to the White House, he would only be the fourth mayor to do so in the country’s history.

It has been more than 100 years since the political career of a US President included a stint as mayor. The last mayor whose career path took him to the White House was Calvin Coolidge who, prior to serving as Governor of Massachusetts and US President was Mayor of Northampton (MA). Of all 45 American Presidents only three were ever mayors before occupying the highest office in the country: Andrew Johnson, Mayor of Greeneville (TN) 1834 to 1835 and President from 1865 to 1869; Grover Cleveland, Mayor of Buffalo (NYC) in 1882 and President from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897; Calvin Coolidge, Mayor of Northampton (MA) 1910 to 1911 and President from 1923 to 1929.

With the exception of Bernie Sanders, all the ‘mayoral’ candidates running for the 2020 Democratic nomination take centre-left positions on economic, social and environmental issues. They favour of stricter gun controls, support variations of medical insurance for all and would, if elected, create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the US.

Bernie Sanders’ suggested policies are more radical. For example, he proposes a 77-per-cent estate (inheritance) tax on estates over US$1 billion. He has said it was obscene that three people, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) owned more wealth than the bottom half of the US population.


Cory Booker
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, from 2006 to 2013
US Senator from New Jersey from 2013 to date

Key accomplishments as
Mayor of Newark

First elected in 2006; re-elected in 2010
Crime reduction: During Cory Booker’s first term as mayor, Newark saw a significant reduction in violent crime.
Mayors against illegal guns: In 2009, Mayor Booker received the Sarah Brady Visionary Award for his work in reducing gun violence.
Social housing: Mayor Booker doubled the amount of affordable homes under construction.
Finance: During his first term, the Mayor reduced the city budget deficit from US$180 million to $73 million. He reduced his own salary and those of city employees earning more than $100,00 a year. Salaries of lower paid employees were raised.
Public health: Mayor Booker established Let’s Move Newark as part of Michelle Obama’s national Let’s Move initiative against childhood obesity.
Social media: With 1.3 million followers, Cory Booker topped City Mayors’ US Twitter league table.
Awards: Cory Booker was a finalist for the 2010 World Mayor Prize.

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
Reducing regulation to encourage innovation.
Finance: ‘
Smart’ investing for long-term benefits
Environment
: In favour of carbon tax
Society:
Creation of ‘baby bonds’ to close wealth gap among young people.
Technology: Against the breakup of large technology companies.
Foreign policy: Iran: Supported Iran nuclear deal but would agree to military options to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Israel / Palestine: Supports two-state solution.
Health: Medicare for all
Crime:
Supports increased funding for prisoner re-entry programmes.
Immigration: Supports DREAM Act
Gun control
: Gun owners to require a license; Regulating gun manufacturers; Investigating tax status of National Rifle Association (NRA)
LBGT: Supported same-sex marriage; Opposed to President Trump’s military transgender ban.


Pete Buttigieg
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana from 2012 to date

Key accomplishments as
Mayor of South Bend

First elected in 2011; re-elected in 2015
Development: The ‘Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative’, also known as ‘1,000 Properties in 1,000 Days’. The project was designed to to repair or demolish blighted properties in South Bend. Another project ‘Smart Streets’ improved economic development and urban vibrancy as well as road safety in downtown areas.
Military service: Pete Buttigieg served for seven months in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve. In his absence his deputy served as executive mayor.
LGBT: Buttigied, who came out as gay in 2015, was a leading opponent to state anti-LGBT legislation.
Environment: Under Buttigieg, South Bend launched a $50-million investment in the city's parks, many of which had been neglected during the preceding decades

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
Strong supporter of organised labour. Believes NAFTA caused job losses. Would consider anti-trust actions against large technology companies.
Environment: Climate change is a threat to national security; Supports Paris climate accord;
Technology
: Would consider anti-trust actions against large technology companies.
Foreign policy: Supports withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Believes Iran poses great threat to Israel.
Health: Gradual introduction of ‘single payer health care system’.
Immigration: Supports ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ programme (DACA)
Crime: Supports abolishing of death penalty. Favours restoring voting rights for former felons.
Drugs: Supports ‘safe, regulated and legal sale of cannabis’.
Gun control: Member of Mayors against illegal guns; Supports universal background checks; Opposes allowing guns into school and ‘Stand your Ground’ self-defence gun laws.
LBGT: Supports more protection for LGBT people and opposes military ban of transgender people.


Julian Castro
Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, from 2009 to 2014


Key accomplishments as
Mayor of San Antonio
First elected in 2009, re-elected in 2011 and 2013.
San Antonio 2020: In 2010, Julian Castro initiated San Antonio 2020, a project that aimed to determine what the city should look like in 2020. The project, which later became a non-profit organisation, sought ideas from residents and the business community. Those running SA2020 now claim that since 2010 San Antonio has become the safest big city in the US, a city that offers quality education and economic opportunities.
Education: In 2012, Mayor Castro let a voter referendum to expand pre-kindergarten education. He persuaded leading local business people to support a $30-million sales tax to fund the programme.

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
Supporter of NAFTA but should include stronger worker and environmental protection.
Environment: In favour of re-joining Paris climate accord. Business should be encouraged to rely on renewable energy.
Foreign policy: Supports gradual support of US troops from Syria.
Health: Supports universal health care system (Medicare for all). System could be financed by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest one per cent of Americans.
Immigration: Supports immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented people already in the US. Opposes border wall. Proposed a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Central America to stabilise countries largest number of migrant coming to the US.
Gun control: Supports universal background checks and banning of assault weapons.
LBGT: Transgender people should be able to serve in the military.
Education: Supports universal pre-kindergarten education and two free years of higher educations.


Bill De Blasio
Mayor of New York City, New York, from 2014 to date

Key accomplishments as
Mayor of New York City

New York City Councillor 2002 to 2009
First elected Mayor November 2013, re-elected November 2017
Municipal identification card: The IDNYC cards, which allowed access to city services, were issued to all residents, regardless of their immigration status. Homeless people were also able to obtain the card.
Technology: Mayor de Blasio campaigned strongly for Amazon to move its new headquarter to NYC but he failed to gauge the mood of local residents. After strong protests, Amazon withdrew their plans to open HQ2 in New York.
Housing: Developers were offered tax breaks to include affordable homes in otherwise market-rate developments.
Education: De Blasio implemented universal pre-kindergarten schooling. His initiative resulted in a significant increase in enrolment, particularly in poorer areas of the city. In 2017, the Mayor proposed to include three-year olds in pre-kindergarten schooling.
Cannabis: In December 2018, the Mayor called for the legislation of cannabis. He worked with a cannabis task force to produce a report on licensing and regulation, which was released along with a letter of endorsement.

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
Supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Opposed NAFTA and the now abandoned Trans Pacific Partnership favoured by former President Barack Obama. Supports a ‘millionaire’s tax’.
Environment:
After President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that committed New York City to uphold the agreement.
Foreign policy: Believes foreign policy should incorporate issues like migration and climate change.
Health: Supports a single-payer healthcare system (Medicare for All).
Education: Supports universal pre-kindergarten education.
Social issues: Supports abortion rights and LGBT health care.
Immigration: Backs protection for undocumented immigrants and the concept of ‘sanctuary cities’.


John Hickenlooper
Mayor of Denver, Colorado, from 2003 to 2011
Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019

Key accomplishments as
Mayor of Denver

First elected Mayor in 2003, re-elected in 2007.
Politics: Upon being elected Mayor, John Hickenlooper sought bi-partisan support for major policy decisions.
Finance: The mayor eliminated the city’s budget deficit of $70 million during his first term. He also won bi-partisan support for tax increases to finance infrastructure projects, including a light railway system.
Homelessness: The mayor introduced a 10-year plan to end homelessness. His ‘Denver Commission on Homelessness’ included members from public agencies, non-profits, businesses and the faith community
Gun control: As mayor, John Hickelooper was a member of Mayors against illegal guns.

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
Strong believer in free trade. Opposes tariffs on goods from China and Europe.
Environment:
Backs climate change action, including regulations on methane and natural gas. Also supports a ‘Green New Deal’.
Foreign policy:
Supports strengthening ties with traditional allies. Strong believer in NATO. Seeks co-ordinated approach to international trade issues.
Health: Supports Obama Care and, as President, would strengthen it.
Social issues: Supports gay marriage, LGBT rights and abortion. Now believes death penalty is unjust.
Immigration:
Opposes President Trump’s approach to immigration. As governor he called the President’s actions cruel and un-American.
Gun control: Supports tighter gun controls. As Colorado Governor signed bills implementing universal background checks for private gun sales,


Wayne Messam
Mayor of Miramar, Florida, from 2015 to date

Key accomplishments as
Mayor of Miramar

First elected as Mayor of Miramar, Florida, in 2015, re-elected in March 2019
President of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
If elected, will repeal the Trump tax cuts which, he says, favour the rich and have not benefited ordinary Americans.
Environment: In favour of the US rejoining the Paris climate accord.
Education: Supports efforts to make college and higher education more affordable. Has proposed a one-time in-full federal government debt cancellation plan.
Immigration: Supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the US.
Gun control: Favours stricter gun control and opposes arming educators and teachers.


Bernie Sanders
Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, from 1981 to 1989
US Senator from Vermont from 2007 to date

Key accomplishments as
Mayor of Burlington

First elected as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981; re-elected in 1983, 1985 and 1987
Housing: Under Bernie Sanders, Burlington became the first city in the US to fund community-trust housing
Development: Mayor Sanders saved the Lake Champlain waterfront from private property developers who wanted to replace redundant industrial buildings with expensive condominiums, hotels, and offices. Today, the waterfront area includes many parks and miles of public beach and bike paths, a boathouse and a science centre.
Awards: In 1987, US News & World Report named Bernie Sanders as one of America’s best mayors.

Key positions as presidential candidate
Economy:
Co-sponsored a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Has for years spoken out against NAFTA and CAFTA which, he said, have resulted in American corporations moving abroad.
Finance: Supports higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Has proposed considerably higher estate (inheritance) taxes for millionaires and billionaires, including a top rate of 77 per cent for estates over $1 billion.
Environment: Co-sponsored the ‘Green-New-Deal’ bill. Has accused President Trump of wilfully neglecting the environment.
Education: Favours the abolition of tuition fees for public college students.
Social issues: Longstanding supporter of LGBT rights. In 1996 voted against the ‘Defence of Marriage Act’. Pro-choice on abortion. He supports ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the legalisation of cannabis at federal level.
Drugs: Together with fellow presidential candidate Cory Booker, co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalise cannabis on federal level.
Foreign policy: Saunders favours greater international collaboration and the adherence of agreements such as the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He emphasised the evils associated with ‘outrageous’ global economic inequality and climate change, and urged reining in the use of US military power, Bernie Saunders strongly opposed the US/UK invasion of Iraq. He was critical of Israel’s actions during the 2014 Gaza war and has come out strongly against the US involvement in the Saudi-Arabian intervention in Yemen.
Health: Bernie Saunders is the author of a ‘Medicare for All’ plan, which he introduced in 2017. He is a strong supporter of universal health care.
Inequality: Following a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, which said that just three people Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) own more wealth than the bottom half of the US population, Sanders stated that we must end global oligarchy and that "we need, in the US and throughout the world, a tax system which is fair, progressive and transparent.
Immigration: Has, in the past, supported the DREAM Act, which was to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors.
Gun control: Saunders supports the banning of assault weapons and universal federal background checks.



* The research was carried out in the second half of May 2019, using publicly available sources, including the presidential candidates' websites and interviews with them