DES MOINES, Iowa — On Friday and Saturday, the New Leaders Council Convention held forums with presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro. On Saturday Mayor Pete Buttigieg took the stage to speak to a crowd made up mostly of millennial community leaders.
“I think it’s fitting that as I seek to become the first millennial president of the United States that we spend some time together talking about what that would mean,” said Buttigieg in his opening remarks.
During the forum he spoke about teachers in the United States being underpaid.
“One of the leaders on my policy team did a body of research using IRS data to actually compute the value, the difference, in somebody’s lifetime earnings if they had a great teacher versus an average teacher. They found that the value of one of the best teachers in one kindergarten classroom per year in terms of how much average lifetime earnings the child would go on to have is $300,000 per teacher per year. Needless to say, compensation doesn’t quite reflect that in value added in our economy,” said Buttigieg.
He also spoke about how to help those working multiple part-time jobs who get similar benefits to those working a single full-time job.
“We’re going to need to sure up Social Security but also over and above that develop another layer of retirement security that’s based on something portable that any of your employers pay into but you take with you,” he said.
Buttigieg was also asked by a member of the audience, Anthony Johnson, about how to improve mental health care, specifically among people of color. Johnson says he answered it well.
“I thought it was a good answer, he addressed the racial component a lot, focused on stigma. In the black community especially, we struggle to talk about mental health, specifically among African American men. That was my primary reason for asking the question,” said Johnson.
Johnson says the two days succeeded in helping introduce young voters to a crowded field of candidates and get excited about the election.
“Our voice does matter, like this is the sacred thing. You vote, you participate, you show up, and that’s how you make change. I think the best job we can do is just go around the country reiterating that message to millennials and getting us to show up,” said Johnson.
Buttigieg also spent time discussing climate change, gun violence and issues facing the LGBTQ community.