Mayors from two Monongahela River communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania signed on to a letter this week endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.
Mayor Matt Shorraw, of Monessen in Westmoreland County, and Mayor Ross Swords Jr., of Brownsville in Fayette County, were among the over 50 mayors from across the country and five from Pennsylvania to sign the letter, which was published in USA Today.
“South Bend and Monessen share similar stories of an industrial past, and both have promising futures,” Shorraw said in a statement. “Pete’s work in South Bend demonstrates what happens when you are able to run an effective local government, whose aim is to help people. Pete is reaching people where they are and talking about the issues that affect small communities — these are the communities that feel forgotten. Unfortunately, many different groups of people feel forgotten. We need to make sure they are still being heard. I believe Pete will do that.”
Former Monessen Mayor Lou Mavrakis, a Democrat, in June 2016 welcomed President Donald Trump — who was then the presumptive Republican nominee — to the struggling river town. At a rally at the scrap metal company Alumisource, Trump described his plans for boosting the economy.
Shorraw replaced Mavrakis in 2017, and has said he would not welcome Trump back to the city of about 8,000 residents.
The letter praised Buttigieg’s policy proposals on climate change, job creation, immigration and health care, describing him as a role model and mentor.
“Pete understands the power of moral leadership,” the letter said. “Mayors are walking symbols of their cities. When we cut a ribbon at a new factory, or comfort a grieving parent whose child was lost to gun violence, we are showing the people we represent that their community stands with them. That kind of empathetic leadership is desperately needed in the Oval Office.”
The three other Pennsylvania mayors who joined the endorsement are Mark Barbee of Bridgeport, Shawn Raup-Konsavage of Bernville and Ron Strouse of Doylestown.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who considers Buttigieg a friend, said the group Mayors for Pete asked him to join in the endorsement, but he held off. He said he had no plans to endorse a presidential candidate this year, but that might change.
Peduto said Mayors for Pete is one of the largest groups to endorse a presidential candidate so far.
“I really like Pete, but I want to look carefully at the candidates,” Peduto said Thursday, adding that he has many friends among the current and former mayors who are backing Buttigieg “I may decide to endorse a candidate this year. I’ve never been one to play it safe and it’s something I’ve been talking to advisors about.”
An August survey of Pennsylvania voters conducted by Franklin & Marshall College showed Buttigieg polling at about 6%, trailing Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont round out the top picks among Pennsylvania voters, according to the survey.