Washington, D.C., May 5 – “Will you be putting people with disabilities in your campaign ads and will you be putting them on your staff?” asked Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the President of RespectAbility. To which, presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg replied, “Yes,” during a campaign stop in the nation’s capital on April 4, making him and Beto O’Rourke the only two presidential candidates to make such a campaign promise on the record.
And by the end of the month, Buttigieg had kept his promise by hiring Emily Voorde, a wheelchair-user, to work for his campaign. This occurred only days after sending a video message using American Sign Language to a deaf supporter to thank him for his support. By quickly keeping this campaign promise, Americans with disabilities have reason to hope that Buttigieg’s campaign will have people with disabilities in mind.
Buttigieg, also known as “Mayor Pete,” is unlike any of his adversaries or any other former president. He is a 37-year-old, openly gay millennial from South Bend, Indiana, who speaks at least seven languages, graduated with honors from Harvard and served in the Navy. In 2012, he became the Mayor of South Bend, a small midwestern industrial town, struggling to stay afloat. Buttigieg has received great credit and esteem for his work in turning around this Rust Belt city. He ran a failed bid for the presidency of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2017 and later announced his campaign for president of the United States earlier this year.