Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks to Evansville’s City Councilman Alex Burton about his thoughts on national politics, Pete Buttigieg and more.
BB: Welcome to In-depth. Getting a front-row seat in a presidential campaign. We have not seen much of Pete Buttigieg in Indiana. But that changed when he came to Indianapolis for a private fundraiser and young Evansville city councilman was there. He too is entering new territory in his career and life and joining me tonight is City Council President Alex Burton. Alex thanks for joinig us tonight. It is unusual that a city leader like yourself comes out to endorse a national candidate. Why did you do this in the case of Pete Buttigieg?
BB: He’s a fellow Hoosier number one. Number two he’s young and energetic. It’s different than what the other choices are on the presidential team. Pete has been working his tail off and making sure the rest of the country gets to know him. So I had no problem endorsing him for president.
BB: That takes me to you, you’re really no stranger to politics. Although you are upfront and center now in Evansville city council and city government. What was the draw to politics for you? What made you say I want to get involved? Especially being as young as you were.
AB: As odd as it sounds I really don’t like politics, I like solving problems. I tell you I got a front-row seat while Johnathan … was mayor. I was interning in his office and just was attracted by the issues and just opportunity Evansville has had. While I was an intern the Ford Center was under construction. So I got to see a lot of that first hand and I loved it.
BB: That was a time when a lot of the community did not want the Ford Center built so you saw both sides of a hot political issue. Okay, let’s get to the private fundraiser now in Indianapolis. I think we have some pics of you there with Pete Buttigieg. You know we said earlier we really haven’t seen Pete Buttigieg in his home state. He’s been out on the campaign trail. What was that like? to meet him? To talk to him? Tell me about that fundraiser.
AB: It was a room full of people that were obviously supporters of Pete Buttigieg ranging from people from Chicago, of course, Indianapolis. Just all around celebrating and honoring and really cheering on Indiana’s… Pete Buttigieg. Like you said he’s been all over the country listening and doing what he needs to secure the presidential nomination. I tell you I was in South Carolina in November alongside my girlfriend. I was amazed. Here he is from Indiana but here people are on the ground working for him in South Carolina.
BB: That brings me to this Alex, analyst throughout the country have said he as had issues getting African American to support him. There is that political statement that says especially in a democratic race the nominee has to have a significant, almost 20 % backing from African Americans. That’s been a challenge for him. What do you say to that?
AB: I tell you, Pete has released the .. .plan which is very detailed and thought out policy that really speaks to the inner cities and really black America. The future is so bright and it’s important that we understand the mistakes of the past. And move forward and move away from all the divisiveness that’s taking place.
BB: Is that easier said than done though?
AB: When you have those conversations, it makes it easier when you’re willing to not shy away from mistakes that some may see. But the fact of the matter is there are so much opportunity in the country. Really solving the injustices of the past and really heading towards a better tomorrow.
BB: We were talking in the newsroom about the toxic atmosphere of politics, you watched last night’s debate. What did you think when you watched that?
AB: For me, it was so much bashing. What we see at the federal level has even trickled down to the local level. The fact of the matter is there just needs to be some things that are solved. Get our issues solved especially as it relates to housing, climate change. Making sure that our children are well-taking care of. So for me, I see in Pete a candidate who is not only a veteran but is also a millennial and who has a ball full of energy and is ready to make a difference.
BB: Did you get any advice form the former Fourth Ward council member Connie Robinson. What she tell you?
AB: Do what my gut says. Since that advice has been taken I tell you she’s on speed dial. I call her often and really just run things by her. Not just as someone who wants to make progress and make the city of Evansville better. But really making sure that thing are well-thought-out and really living up to what I campaigned on and making sure “e is for everyone”.
BB: Well, you’re a young man but I just heard you say speed dial. So you got some history there. Alex thank you so much for joining us tonight. We’ll be talking to you and well be talking a lot about city council and the issues and challenges ahead for the city of Evansville. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
AB: Thank you soo much for having me.
BB: You’re watching Eyewitness News at 9 well be right back.
(This story was originally published on Feb. 20, 2020)