Chamber Endorses Buttigieg For Mayor

ChamberPAC announces candidate endorsements

South Bend's Buttigieg, Mishawaka's Wood get nod

The South Bend Tribune

September 20, 2011

SOUTH BEND — For the first time, ChamberPAC, the political action committee of The Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County, is endorsing candidates in both the South Bend and Mishawaka mayoral and common council races in the Nov. 8 general election.

For mayor, the committee elected to endorse Democrat Pete Buttigieg in South Bend over Republican Wayne Curry, and Republican Dave Wood in Mishawaka over Democratic challenger Craig Fry.

In South Bend’s Common Council races, the committee is backing Democrats Derek Dieter, Gavin Ferlic and Karen White for at-large positions. For the other Common Council spots, Republican Mike Stack in District 1, Democrat Valerie Schey in District 3, Independent Kyle Chamberlin in District 4 and Republican Dave Varner in District 5 received endorsements.

In Mishawaka, Democrats John Roggeman and Matt Mammolenti and Republican Dan Bilancio were being backed for at-large openings. Also endorsed are Democrat Woody Emmons in District 1, Republican Mike Bellovich in District 2, Democrat Ross Deal in District 3, Republican Marsha McClure in District 4 and Democrat Ron Banicki in District 6.

"These endorsements represent candidates that share in The Chamber’s ‘big picture’ vision for economic progress," Chamber president and CEO Jeff Rea said. "If elected, we believe that these candidates will be well positioned to provide leadership and will work collaboratively with business and community groups to move Mishawaka and South Bend toward a more welcoming environment for business growth."

ChamberPAC turned to the process it established in the primary election to identify candidates for endorsement consideration. A political evaluation committee (PEC) comprised of a bipartisan group of 13 business leaders with business interests in both South Bend and Mishawaka convened to spearhead the endorsement process.

Four key components were outlined in the endorsement process that parallels that of a job interview: application, first interview, second interview and endorsement/hiring. The first three steps of the process included the completion of a candidate questionnaire (job application), an interview with PEC members (first interview) followed by participation at a "meet and greet" for council candidates and a forum for mayoral candidates (second interview) hosted in each city. More than 600 hours were devoted to the evaluation process of the candidates, the Chamber noted.

"Through the fair and comprehensive process conducted by ChamberPAC, we have concluded that the endorsed candidates best match the ideals, philosophies and goals of The Chamber," said Sheri Miller Story, director of public policy for The Chamber.

"We have said that all along we are treating this endorsement process like a job interview. We know it is up to the voters to do the hiring on Election Day; however, we felt it was important to make a recommendation to the business community based on our findings collected from more than 600 hours of process. The candidates were evaluated on their views on issues impactful to business and community growth, their interaction with the committee and the public."