SOUTH BEND - Interest is already building for Mayor Stephen Luecke's successor. Two candidates have already filed paperwork for a exploratory committee, and two more candidates announced intentions to do the same.
The end of an era is now official. People who worked closely with Luecke, thanked him for his decades of service to the city after his announcement that he will not seek re-election for a fourth time.
Mere minutes after his decision was made public, attention was already shifting to South Bend's next leader.
"There's no anointed successor, if you will," said Luecke.
Officials from St. Joseph County's Democratic Party said that a meeting with interested candidates is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.
"We couldn't do anything until after the mayor made his decision," said Gladys Muhammad, secretary for the St. Joseph County Democratic Party.
Candidates are openly throwing their name into the ring to be Mayor Luecke's successor.
Two candidates already filed paperwork for an exploratory committee with the St. Joseph County Clerk's Office:
- Reverend Barrett Berry filed back in April for public office.
- Pete Buttigieg filed November 22nd.
Buttigieg, the former candidate for state treasurer, issued a statement to WSBT News.
"I would like to thank Mayor Luecke for his years of service to our community, and offer my best wishes to him and his family as they look to the future. While I won't make a formal announcement today, my team and I have been building a very strong campaign. We look forward to talking and listening to more people about our city's promising future."
State Representative Ryan Dvorak formally announced plans to file his paperwork.
"I appreciate the tremendous amount of encouragement I have received from people asking me to run, and look forward to having a meaningful discussion about our city's future."
Mike Hamann, a current County Council member whose name was added to the mix, did not return our calls for comment.
Hamann is expected to make a former announcement about his intentions, Thursday.
Republicans also see Luecke's decision as an opportunity.
"I've had conversations with multiple people," said Chairman Chris Riley. "Not that I will reveal their names publicly, but there are on-going conversations in the community for a business leader, someone who has grown jobs."