Guest Editorial: Mayor Pete, The Yang Gang, AOC and Fresh Local Faces in 2020

By Recker McDowell —

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang posted strong fourth quarter fundraising numbers in the Democratic presidential race.

Buttigieg, in particular, has shown in his fundraising and polls that many voters are looking for fresh faces and fresh voices as Democrats decide who will take on President Donald Trump in November.

Trump benefited from the same dynamic in 2016 when he was the fresh, bull in the china shop political face against a parade of establishment candidates. In 2018, Democrats were buoyed by newer progressive faces led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The election cycles are showing voters want something new, something fresh in politics.

That is also true at the state and local level. In Scottsdale, for example, fresh faces and perspectives were front and center in successful passages of the three city bond questions in November.

Some new voices and political players are also showing up as Scottsdale gears up for the 2020 elections for Mayor and City Council and the city grapples with rekindled debates related to growth and density.

New voices in the political arena offer the opportunity to engage more voters and those in the community who might not be as engaged in politics.

New candidates and community advocates can help broaden the base of those interested in their cities and neighborhoods. Sometimes the same faces and same candidates discourage new residents, younger voters and those who have not been engaged before from getting involved more in the public square.

We know that not all new political voices are productive and positive. Half of the country would say that about Trump and the other half about U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

But the marketplace ideas — whether it is the race for the White House or Scottsdale City Council — can benefit from new perspectives and fresh faces who can increase civic engagement and offer ideas focused on the future and not rooted in the past.

That is good for democracy and good for communities.