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Michael Tubbs, the youngest former mayor of the United States

LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO

No one is a prophet in Stockton, not even the native Michael Tubbs. In 2016, the young elected official had the honors of the national press; youngest mayor of a large American city and first African-American city councilor of this industrious town of 310,000 inhabitants of the central valley of California.

At 26, Michael Tubbs was elected with 70% of the vote. The city was emerging from a period of recession that had made it the home foreclosure capital of the United States. The young progressive proposed to “Reinventing Stockton”.

Read also Stockton, the “city of foreclosures”, bankrupt

Four years later, Michael Tubbs became “The youngest ex-mayor” of the country, to use its own expression. On November 3, the one who was considered one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party was defeated in the municipal elections. He waited until the last ballots were counted, but on November 17 he admitted defeat. A real slap in the face, after his triumph in 2016. His opponent, Republican Kevin Lincoln, 40, is a former Marine become a pastor, who claims a black and Latino identity. He had the support of the law enforcement unions, alarmed by the debate on the abolition of the police in schools, born in the wake of the Black Lives Matter mobilization.

Michael Tubbs said he left with the satisfaction of leaving a budget surplus of 13 million dollars (11 million euros), after the city declared itself bankrupt in 2012. He is credited with having raised more than 100 million for Stockton to government agencies and tech patrons like Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat – his fellow student at Stanford – who donated $ 20 million to a $ 1,000-a-year college scholarship program for young people disadvantaged high school students (There is no public university in Stockton but four prisons).

Jealousies, critics and cabal

Why such a failure? According to Los Angeles Times, the young mayor has “paid” for his national notoriety. From his election, the press was passionate about his career as a child raised by his mother while his father was behind bars – he is still there – but determined not to let himself be defined by the ” systemic racism “.

In 2008 Tubbs was admitted to Stanford on a scholarship. The summer of his sophomore year, he interned at the Obama White House. It was there that his mother called him in November 2010 to tell him that his cousin had been killed on a Halloween party. The student decided to return to Stockton and run for city council. He had not yet finished his studies. Oprah Winfrey, the famous businesswoman and TV host, helped him fund his campaign.

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