South Bend Mayor to Serve in Afghanistan

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he will serve on active military duty in Afghanistan for seven months next year. City Controller Mark Neal will serve as Mayor on an interim basis. Buttigieg is a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

September 12, 2013

News Release

South Bend, Ind. -- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will serve from February 28 to September 30, 2014 on active military duty in Afghanistan with the United States Navy Reserve.

In his absence, Mayor Buttigieg will designate City Controller Mark Neal as the Deputy Mayor for the City of South Bend for the duration of his deployment.

“My primary responsibility and focus every day is to lead South Bend forward,” says Mayor Buttigieg. "At the same time, as a military officer I have made a commitment to our country, and my orders require me to keep that promise by going to Afghanistan next year. I am ready to serve and perform duties I have been training to do for years, and then look forward to coming home to resume the extraordinarily fulfilling and important work of leading our city as mayor."

Under Indiana law (Indiana Code section 5-6-2), a mayor who is called into active military duty is not considered to have vacated his office, and is authorized to designate a deputy mayor to serve in his place during a service-related absence.

Accordingly, Buttigieg will activate a section of South Bend's municipal code that establishes the position of Deputy Mayor, and will work with members of the Common Council to incorporate the position into the current 2014 budget. To prevent additional costs to taxpayers, Buttigieg will not accept his City salary during the period of his deployment.

Buttigieg, 31, was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009 and holds the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. Like most members of the Reserve and National Guard, he spends one weekend a month training or drilling. Each year, he also performs a two-week tour of duty known as Annual Training.

Due to considerations of operational security, personal safety, and military policy, Buttigieg declined to discuss details of his mission, for which he was selected based on his rank, military specialty, training, and experience. His orders call for him to report for duty on February 28, 2014. He will train and prepare in the United States for approximately one month before mobilizing to Afghanistan with a projected detachment date of September 30, 2014.

Buttigieg expects to have good communications access during his time overseas, and said he would stay in touch regularly with city officials on civic issues, important developments, and administration priorities, primarily through e-mail and video conferencing.

In naming Neal to serve in his absence, Buttigieg stressed his confidence in Neal's abilities, and praised his many contributions.

"Mark is an extremely well respected private sector businessman, non-profit manager, and civic leader," says Buttigieg. "He has been the driving force behind a number of administration activities—budget planning, staffing and organization, and our transformation into a smart and technologically savvy city—since I took office. South Bend will be in excellent hands with his pleasant demeanor, team-based approach, and deep understanding of this administration’s goals and priorities."

Neal, 52, has served as the city controller since January 1, 2012. As the controller, he oversees the fiscal management of the city, human resources, information technology, purchasing, insurance, labor negotiations, the budgeting process, and performance management measures. He also serves on South Bend’s Board of Public Works. He will leave the position of controller at the end of 2013.

"I am honored to serve as Deputy Mayor during Mayor Buttigieg's absence to support his vision for South Bend," says Neal. "I greatly admire and respect the Mayor for his dedication and service to South Bend and to our country. I will focus, along with the strong leadership team he has put in place, to execute the strategy he has set forth."

Before working with the city, Neal led his own executive and financial management consulting firm and worked on early stage ventures within the healthcare IT industry. Neal also served as vice president and chief financial officer for Press Ganey Associates, Inc., the nation’s largest provider of patient satisfaction and quality improvement services.

He received a B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from George Washington University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Y.M.C.A. of Michiana and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association. He is also the president of the Michiana chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI).

Neal is married and has three children who attend—or have graduated from—the South Bend Community School Corporation.

"I have always believed that being a Reserve officer makes me a better mayor," says Buttigieg. "I will deeply miss my job here and the chance to spend next spring and summer in South Bend, but I also have total confidence in our team to guide the city well during my absence."

Source: City of South Bend