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President-elect Joe Biden tapped Pete Buttigieg to serve as transportation secretary, but as leader of South Bend, Ind. the former mayor had a pothole problem.
The 38-year-old served as mayor from 2012 to 2020, as he forayed into national politics in the Democratic primary.
But in 2019, the South Bend Tribune reported that many residents felt the city had the ”worst pothole situation in the state."
The Tribune reported one year earlier that potholes at the time were the worst area repair shops had seen in “over 10 years." Lines of vehicles reportedly awaited repair for pothole damages every day.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Rich Ferrara Jr., service manager at Rick’s Auten Road 66 in South Bend. Another local auto repair shop owner said that damage typically came out to between $500 and $1,000.
Though the state allows motorists to file claims for damage caused by potholes, it’s unclear how many file claims and how many claims are processed.
Potholes are the product of freezing-thawing temperatures, and as groundwater expands and contracts the pavement loosens.
In 2019, Domino’s Pizza stepped in — offering South Bend a $5,000 “Paving for Pizza” grant to fill in potholes. Customers had been asked to nominate their hometown so carryout pizza could have a smooth delivery home.
South Bend city engineer Kara Boyles said the city fills about 22,000 potholes annually and has a budget of $90,000.
James Mueller, Buttigieg’s Democratic successor, ran on a platform of repairing the pothole problem.
"Potholes are unsightly hazards that can cause damage to vehicles and create unsafe driving conditions. I will commit to improving the city’s response times to road hazards like potholes and seek new materials that will last longer through our harsh weather conditions,” his platform read.
In 2017, top aides to Mayor Buttigieg expressed interest in having the road in front of Buttigieg’s house repaved, though it was not initially slated for repavement by the city. Emails obtained by the Free Beacon show Buttigieg’s then-chief of staff Angela Kouters expressing concern Buttigieg’s road was not on the maintenance list.
"What’s going on with the paving on North Shore? It wasn’t on the latest paving list," Kouters wrote in an email to the city's then-deputy director of public works, Jitin Kain. She sent the email two days before the city released its paving schedule.
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Kain replied that she had "mentioned to the mayor that north shore was being added." Buttigieg’s road was repaved 10 days later, city records show. The portion of road in front of his home was in better condition than roads around it, records show.
Eric Horvath, South Bend’s public works director, denied that Buttigieg had any part in his street being added to the list.
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